Former England midfielder and current Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has announced that he will be leaving his boyhood club at the end of the Premier League season to join American champions LA Galaxy.
Although eventually inevitable, the news has shocked football fans across the globe, with many believing that Gerrard would start and finish his career at Liverpool. The midfield dynamo has been an integral part of Liverpool’s recent history, often single-handedly dragging his team-mates over the finishing line.
His performance in the 2005-06 FA Cup final being a prime example, often referred to as the ‘Gerrard final’ the skipper assisted one before scoring two top-drawer goals – including a mind-blowing injury time equaliser from 40 yards out to send the game in to penalties, where Liverpool prevailed.
The year previous the Liverpool captain this time inspired his team towards Champions League glory, heading in the first of three 6 minute goals to come from behind to beat AC Milan in one of the most dramatic football matches the world has ever seen. It’s these countless moments of indescribable genius and passion that have made Gerrard simply irreplaceable.
Here’s some ups and downs of the skipper’s career:
Even at the age wily old age of 34 and playing in an unfamiliar anchor role Gerrard is still undoubtedly Liverpool’s star man in midfield with the Liverpool manager holding him in high regard:
‘There are not many who can do what he can do, which is be one of the best attacking midfield players in Europe and then switch to be the best controlling player.’ – Brendan Rodgers
His ability to break down play and dictate the tempo of games from deep earned him a spot in the Premier League team of the year. Even in the more defensive role he still managed to notch 13 goals, including 10 vital penalties that played an intrinsic role in Liverpool’s title challenge.
His presence in the Liverpool midfield has also crucially aided the development of Jordan Henderson, who often received flak for underachieving since his arrival from Sunderland, with Henderson saying in an interview with BBC show Football Focus: “I think I’ve improved over the last few years and a lot of it is down to him [Gerrard]. He’s a role model for all of us and it’s a massive loss for us as a team”.
Playing alongside Gerrard has furthered Henderson’s game significantly, turning him not only into one of Liverpool’s top players but also vice-captain. We are now seeing a Henderson that isn’t afraid to thread a ball through a defence or get in the faces of the opposition. Although Gerrard can’t go on his marauding runs through opposition defenders nowadays; it is still apparent that he can have a huge impact on the players around him. Which begs the question: why are we letting him go?