November 12, 2012 by Editor
Goals? Tackles? Passes? Cup finals? Medals?
To put it simply, he has given Liverpool everything.
For the first time since Kenny Dalglish retired in 1987 there is some debate about who is the best player in our history. I wasn’t lucky enough to see Kenny in his prime, but combining his playing ability, managerial record and contribution to the Hillsborough fight for justice, means he will always be the number one legend at Liverpool FC.
On the pitch though, Steven Gerrard isn’t far away.
Since making his debut in 1999, the memories are endless. Not one but two goal line clearances in his first derby in a 3-2 win, after coming on as sub at right back. Robbie Fowler got the headlines for his snorting celebration, but Gerrard’s impact was vital.
His first goal v Sheff Wed at Anfield, including a brilliant dummy. A sensational 40 yard through ball for Titi Camara to score at Highbury. A 30 yard pile driver over Fabien Barthez v United at Anfield. His goal v Alves in the UEFA Cup final, his 10th of a brilliant, treble winning season.
His first derby goal at Goodison, in a 3-1 win in 2001-02. His outrageous 50 yard outside of the foot pass for Riise to score, again at Highbury. His pass to Danny Murphy in Fergie time at Old Trafford, to lob Barthez (him again) in the same season.
A 30 yard strike at the Millennium stadium to win the League Cup in 2003 – past Barthez again – gave him another winners medal.
The captaincy soon followed, something that some players would crumble under. He blossomed, and Rafa Benitez enjoyed the benefits.
Olympiakos. What a hit son, what a hit. His celebrations on the pitch after beating Chelsea 1-0 to reach Istanbul.
What else? Erm, oh yeah. Istanbul.
First goal. Gesturing to lift the fans. Winning the penalty for the equaliser. Switching to right back to stifle Serginho. Lifting the trophy. Immortality.
He had his best goalscoring season after this, 23 goals and the PFA Player of the Year award, and his finest hour, and greatest ever goal.
West Ham. Millennium Stadium, FA Cup Final 2006. In a bizarre game, we found ourselves 3-2 down when the stadium announcer said there will be 4 minutes added time. It was such a weird day that even Paul Konchesky scored from 25 yards out.
Gerrard, and others, had struggled with cramp and we were on our last legs. His half volley, daisy cutting 35 yard strike is the best goal I’ve seen anyone score in the FA Cup final, and for that alone he deserved to lift the trophy.
Opening day 30 yard free kick at Villa park was unbelievable – until he scored a similar one at Newcastle. He broke Ian Rush European goals record against PSV. His partnership with Torres is one of the best our club and this country have ever seen.
Hat trick v Villa in 2009. His goal and performance in the 4-1 win at Old Trafford. Kissing the camera. Napoli hat trick off the bench. Hat trick in the derby.
Double penalty success in the semi final against Joe Hart, on the way to lifting the Carling last season as captain.
Endless memories and achievements. As players came and went through Houllier, Benitez, Hodgson, Comolli, Kenny and Rodgers, Gerrard has remained the main man every single season. Even when we lost Fowler,Owen,Alonso Mascherano or Torres, there was always the re-assurance we had Steven Gerrard.
Of course there have been bad times, like his public doubt about his and the clubs future in 2004 and 2005. I disliked his arrogance of publicly challenging our ability to stay in the Champions League before Olympiakos, creating unnecessary headlines. The transfer request after Istanbul was regrettable. They’re tiny details though, during an unforgettable career at Liverpool.
When the time comes for Stevie to hang up his boots, no doubt the manager will be put under predictable media pressure to find a like-for-like replacement.
Well no other club has found a player to match his drive, ability, strength, influence and goals, all combined in one shirt, in so many positions, for 13 years. So why would you expect us to find one?
Let’s just enjoy him while we can. He’s simply irreplaceable.
This piece was written by Simon Ward. You can follow him on Twitter @SiWard316