Steven Gerrard's 10 Greatest Heroic Moments for Liverpool
Merriam-Webster defines a hero as:
A) A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.
B) An illustrious warrior.
C) A man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.
D) One who shows great courage.
Steven Gerrard possesses all of these qualities in spades. He's dedicated his life to Liverpool Football Club, and thus, to every man or woman who calls themselves a Red.
Let's take a moment, or 10, to honor one of the greatest men Liverpool will ever know.
In the Beginning ...
Who could have known that the then 19-year-old Steven Gerrard would become arguably the club's greatest member in history?
In a 4-1 rout of Sheffield Wednesday, Gerrard scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool.
He received the ball a little more than 40 yards out, and proceeded to dribble past three defenders before slotting the ball past the keeper.
It was the beginning of an era, and it was a brilliant goal indeed. Classic Stevie G, literally.
First Long Distance Call
Steven Gerrard made a wonder-goal out of absolutely nothing on New Year's Day 2001.
Southampton should wear it as a badge of honor that they were the first mark to fall by the long-range assassin that Steven Gerrard would become.
Liverpool went on to win that game 2-1.
In that 2000-01 season, Gerrard started 50 matches and was a part of a Liverpool side that brought home the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.
Oh Captain, My Captain
It wasn't a game where Steven Gerrard scored any goals or even had spectacular play, but it was his first game as Liverpool captain, and one he'll not soon forget.
Liverpool were hosting Slovenian league side Olimpija Ljubljana in a Champions League group stage match.
Goals by Emile Heskey, Harry Kewell and Anthony Le Tallec saw Liverpool prevail 3-0.
The Goal That Made It All Possible
No doubt everyone remembers the greatest game ever played, but few beyond Liverpool supporters remember the goal that made it all possible.
Liverpool were in dire straits against Olympiacos FC and were facing elimination in the Champions League, unless they won by two goals.
After the legendary Rivaldo scored on a free kick for the Greeks, the outlook grew dim at Anfield.
Two second-half goals put Liverpool in striking distance, but with 12 minutes remaining, a 2-1 scoreline wasn't going to be enough for the Reds to advance.
Then, in the 86th minute, Neil Mellor headed a Jamie Carragher cross down towards Captain Fantastic about 25 yards out.
The rest is legend.
The Greatest Game Ever Played
With the stakes as high as they were, and the result as improbable as it was, I can safely say as a metaphysical certitude, that the 2005 Champions League Final was the greatest game ever played.
By halftime, the game was over. Liverpool had flat-lined and were staring at an insurmountable 3-0 deficit.
What happened in the next 45 minutes can only be described as one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
If I were to tell you that the score would be tied just 15 minutes into the second half, you'd have slapped me silly, Liverpool fan or not.
And yet, that's precisely what transpired. Steven Gerrard got Liverpool on the score sheet with a brilliant header high and away from the keeper. Within 10 minutes, the match was nil-nil again.
Liverpool completed their most improbable task in the penalty shootout, and the legend of Steven Gerrard grew to previously unimaginable heights.
A Red Till the End
Following the Champions League victory over AC Milan, Steven Gerrard rejected an offer that would extend and improve his £60,000-per-week-wage contract, which had two years left on it.
The new offer was for £100,000 and would further extend his contract. Gerrard refused the offer and put in a transfer request.
In this excerpt from a Daily Mail article, Steven's emotions throughout the saga are on full display:
"Madness broke out," he said. "I was sitting dazed at home, watching the TV, and when I saw fans burning an old No. 17 shirt by the Shankly Gates, it did my head in. Show some respect. Don't you know how this is tearing me apart?
"Dad begged me not to go, but I replied, 'look at the TV, fans are burning my shirt, the club aren't stopping them, Liverpool don't want me any more'.
"I stared at the TV through flowing tears. I was suffocated by stress. My head was banging, and I was eating paracetamol like Smarties."
"It was the lowest point of my career. I broke down. Panic breakdown. Complete mess. Could I hand in that Liverpool armband? Could I look the father I adore in the eye again?
"Could I let the Kop down? No. I couldn't jump over the edge of the cliff. I could see the great possibilities of Chelsea, but my heart wouldn't let me leave.
"Finally, my mind was made up. At 11 p.m. that night, on July 5, 2005, I called my agent to tell Rick Parry (Liverpool's chief executive) that I wanted to sign.
"My heart stopped racing, and I put the paracetamol away. The following morning, I awoke with a smile on my face for the first time in weeks."
The Gerrard Game
Almost exactly a year after their heart-stopping win over AC Milan, Liverpool found themselves embattled in an FA Cup Final with West Ham United.
In similar fashion, the Reds found themselves down 2-0 early on. Then, in the 32nd minute, Steven Gerrard delivered a trademark long ball right at the feet Djibril Cisse, who slipped it past the keeper.
Gerrard's vision makes him one of the best in the world, and that pass was delivered on time and on a dime.
It was Stevie who equalized in the 54th minute on a venomous volley, and that would have been the goal of the game, perhaps of the tournament—would have been.
In the 64th minute, an impossible goal by left-back Paul Konchesky sailed over Pepe Reina. By the 90th minute, a 3-2 finish seemed the likely final.
And then came the goal. According to Gerrard, it was his best ever. Just seconds after regulation and seconds before the fourth official raised his board for four extra minutes, Gerrard picked his spot from 35 yards out.
The ball stayed low and true and sailed past Shaka Hislop for the third time. Liverpool won the penalty shootout 3-1, and of course Gerrard's found the back of the net.
Top Shelf, No Look
Not only did Steven Gerrard score the equalizer against Marseille to kick off the 2008 Champions League campaign, he also scored the eventual game-winner.
The equalizer was a bit of genius, with a splash of magic and a touch of brilliance.
The ball came to Gerrard a little more than 25 yards out, and without even looking toward the net, old Stevie wrapped his foot around it and the ball sailed into the upper corner.
It was an awe-inspiring finish that only added to the lore of Steven Gerrard. What would have been a goal of a lifetime for many a footballer was just another moment of brilliance in a long list from our Captain Fantastic.
2009 Football Writer's Association Player of the Year
The 2008-09 season was arguably Steven Gerrard's best individual season.
He scored 24 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions and was awarded the Football Writer's Association Player of the Year award.
His efforts on the season saw him edge Ryan Giggs for the award by just 10 votes.
For Steven Gerrard, the season ended up being one of "what could have been."
Liverpool finished just four points behind Manchester United for the Premier League title, the one major accomplishment that has eluded Gerrard at every turn.
Were it up to him, he would probably swap awards with Giggs in a heart beat. Still, it was the type of season and effort that endears Gerrard to his fans. He put forth everything he had for the title, but came up just short.
Liverpool had won the award 10 times in 16 years from 1974-1990. John Barnes was the last Red to win the award before Gerrard.
The Moment Yet to Come
These are but a few moments in the already legendary career of Steven Gerrard. They're certainly not all of them, and many more could be listed here that weren't.
Still, at 32 years of age there are plenty of moments yet to come from Gerrard.
We've watched him grow and flourish under the Red banner, and he's treated us to many a virtuoso performance.
Stevie's never left anything out on the pitch. His every touch has us holding our breath in hopes of a moment of pure brilliance.
When it comes off, he lifts the spirits of millions to new heights.
A different kind of Red runs through Gerrard's veins and has since his very first breath on this earth, and so shall it till his very last.
He's given himself to this club and its supporters and shown us all what it truly means to Never Walk Alone. That is heroic indeed.