Steven Gerrard Signs New Liverpool Contract: Top 10 Moments in Reds Career
There are some things that you just know will happen, but you smile all the same when they do happen.
This was one of them.
Liverpool fan or not, you probably smiled a little when you read on Monday, July 15, 2013, that Steven Gerrard signed a new deal with Liverpool Football Club. A deal that effectively ties him to the club for the rest of his career.
Call it a match made in heaven. A Hollywood love affair. A Roy of the Rovers inspiration. Steven Gerrard's Liverpool story is a great one. One not without its bumps along the way, of course, what with his public flirtations with Chelsea back in 2004 and 2005, but a great story nonetheless. (And what great story doesn't have its bumps?)
With news emerging recently that the Liverpool captain is on his way back from a shoulder injury to start the 2013-14 Premier League season (via the Mirror), any football fan would hope to see plenty more chapters written in Gerrard's story, starting with his testimonial against Olympiakos at Anfield on August 3.
But let's take a look back at how it's has been written so far. Here are Steven Gerrard's top 10 moments in a Liverpool shirt, in chronological order. Enjoy, reminisce, and look forward to more.
1998: First Team Debut
It all started on November 29, 1998, at Anfield.
Liverpool were already two goals up against Blackburn, courtesy of Paul Ince and Michael Owen.
In the 90th minute, Gerard Houllier made his second substitution of the night. Off came Norwegian right-back Vegard Heggem.
On the fourth official's board showed No. 28, and from the bench came a nervous, skinny young lad from the Liverpool academy.
His name wasn't even on the match program.
But it was a first-team debut for Steven Gerrard, for his hometown club, all the same.
1999: First Ever Goal
Steven Gerrard didn't remain unknown for long, however.
Thirteen appearances in his debut season later, Gerrard gradually became a first-team regular under the tutelage of Gerard Houllier, and soon took a starting central midfield role next to Jamie Redknapp.
This was during a time when the young Gerrard, while still suffering from niggling back problems as a result of accelerated growth, was still prone to the odd rash challenge or two.
After conceding a red-card foul on Kevin Campbell just moments after coming on as a substitute in the Merseyside derby against Everton, Gerrard soon went on to open his account for the Reds.
And what a goal it was to mark the occasion.
A slaloming run against Sheffield Wednesday in a 4-1 home win, bursting past the midfield and slotting it coolly into the far corner.
Exactly the type of run and kind of finish that he would soon become known for.
2001: First Goal Against Manchester United
It wasn't long before Gerrard got over his injury troubles, and it wasn't long before he established himself as one of the best young players in the country.
En route to a treble-winning season with Liverpool, in an impressive season as a midfield talisman came Steven Gerrard's first ever goal against Manchester United, those hated arch-rivals.
It wasn't your ordinary goal either.
Much like his first-ever goal for the senior team against Sheffield Wednesday, Gerrard had to start this record with a bang.
Picking up the ball in the midfield area from a layoff from Robbie Fowler, Gerrard took a touch, ran into space ahead of him and hammered a shot past United keeper Fabien Barthez from all of 35 yards out, right into the top left corner.
Cue the iconic celebration.
March 31, 2001.
2003: Liverpool Skipper
During his early years as a Liverpool player, Gerrard was a quiet, reserved member of the squad who preferred to show his leadership on the pitch.
And since 2002, he had served as a vice-captain to the respected Sami Hyypia.
In October 2003, however, Houllier decided to up Gerrard's game, personal responsibility and professional development by bestowing on the Huyton-born youngster the Liverpool captain's armband.
It wasn't a decision that went down well initially with Hyypia, according to this Sky Sports report, but one that in hindsight made a huge difference in the years to come for Liverpool.
It's almost 10 years to the day since Steven Gerrard assumed the responsibility as the captain of Liverpool Football Club.
Nearly impossible to believe that he wasn't born with it.
2004: What a Hit, Son!
Soon Gerard Houllier was relieved of his post as Liverpool manager, and in came Rafael Benitez. Who lost his main striker, Michael Owen, to Real Madrid in a measly £8 million player-exchange deal.
It was Gerrard though that Benitez decided to build his side around, and what he got from his captain was his golden years, his blistering strikes and his trademark rescue acts.
Take the Champions League group stage in Benitez's first season at Anfield for example.
You've all heard the story, but it needs repeating: the circumstances of Liverpool's group meant that after going down to Rivaldo's classy first-half free-kick, they needed three goals to go through to the knockout stages.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor were Benitez's inspired substitutions on the night, but in the 86th minute, the Reds were still trailing Greek club Olympiakos.
You know the rest, Andy Gray screaming his head off and all.
Nine years on, Olympiakos are the chosen opponent for Steven Gerrard's testimonial match celebrating his iconic career. It's not too difficult to see why.
With a gifted swing of his right boot, Steven Gerrard took Liverpool to the knockout stages of the Champions League, and eventually to the final in Istanbul against European powerhouse AC Milan.
What transpired over the next 120 minutes (plus penalties) forever went down in English football folklore.
And it was Steven Gerrard who inspired the turnaround, becoming the second youngest Champions League winner after Didier Deschamps in the progress.
2006: The Gerrard Final
He didn't stop there.
A year on from the legendary triumph in Istanbul, Steven Gerrard performed another of his heroic rescue acts for Liverpool in the FA Cup final against West Ham United.
Having provided a fine defence-splitting assist for Djibril Cisse for Liverpool's first goal, Gerrard thundered a Peter Crouch knockdown into Shaka Hislop's net before the 90th-minute screamer happened.
It happened when Gerrard was barely mobile from cramp.
And it made Gerrard an FA Cup winner. And the only player to have scored in the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup finals.
2008: 100 Not Out
The personal milestones just kept coming for Gerrard, and on October 1, 2008, he scored his 100th goal for Liverpool in a Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven.
Robbie Keane opened his account in a Red shirt that day, but the 3-1 home win will forever be remembered as the occasion where Gerrard hit triple figures for his hometown club.
And how did he score it?
Why, a trademark 30-yard free-kick, of course.
2009: Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year
With the milestones came the accolades.
That three-year period was arguably Gerrard's best years for Liverpool, starring in a fearsome midfield unit comprising Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, and one of Europe's most devastating attacking duos with Fernando Torres under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez.
And that Liverpool looked unstoppable at times.
It was in the 2008-09 season, of course, that the Reds came closest to securing their first ever Premier League title, which they ultimately lost to Manchester United by just four points.
But an exhilarating final stretch of the season, in which they blitzed past the likes of Real Madrid at Anfield and Manchester United at Old Trafford, saw Gerrard rise to the fore as one of the best players on the continent.
A stretch that saw Gerrard win the prestigious Football Writers' Association Player of the Year award, the first Liverpool player to win it in 19 years.
2012: Derby Hat Trick
What was supposed to be the catalyst for a golden generation at Anfield, after the thrilling finish to the 2008-09 season, instead came crashing down quickly.
Liverpool stuttered, then plunged into near financial ruin, and Gerrard himself suffered injury troubles.
During the ill-fated second reign of Kenny Dalglish there were some positive moments, one of which will go down as a personal highlight for Gerrard.
In the Merseyside derby in March 2012, Gerrard delivered his second ever Premier League hat trick against Everton, his first against the Blues.
That was on his 400th Premier League appearance.
At the beginning of the following season, Steven Gerrard made his 250th appearance as Liverpool captain.
And so the story continues, and legend continues to write itself.