Liverpool Legends: Steven Gerrard

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Liverpool Legends: Steven Gerrard

Barney Corkhill continues to take a look at the illustrious history of the most successful club in English football. In this series, the greatest players from Liverpool's history will be looked at.

Most of them are fan favourites, and most were hugely talented, but all of them are Liverpool Legends.

I should stress that in these articles, I will only focus on their career while at Liverpool.

Today's legend has been at Liverpool his entire career and, while there, has developed into a talisman of the club, and one of the best midfielders in the world. Already considered a legend by all Liverpool fans, he is the man many believe to be one of the greatest to ever play for the club - Steven Gerrard.

Remember remember the fifth of November, because that is the day Stevie G signed his first professional contract. The year was 1997.

It wasn't until over a year later, however, that Gerrard made his first team debut, coming on as a sub on 29 November 1998. His first start came not long afterwards against Celta Vigo in the UEFA Cup.

He went on to make 13 appearances in his debut season, with all but that Celta game coming in the league.

The following season he was plagued by injuries, but when fit was usually in the first team, partnering Jamie Redknapp in midfield. It was this season that he scored his first goal, against Sheffield Wednesday, helping Liverpool to a 4-1 win. Even from those early days, it was obvious that Gerrard could become a truly great player.

He also got his first red card that season after coming on as a sub in the Merseyside derby. It was both his first taste of a derby, and his first of seeing red, but not his last.

2000-01 was a special season, as all Liverpool fans will remember. Gerrard, by now a key first team player, played an integral part in Liverpool's treble winning season. He played 50 times, averaging a goal every five games with the ten times he found the net.

His link up play with frontmen Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen was one of the major factors in Liverpool winning the League Cup, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Cup in perhaps the greatest UEFA Cup final of all time, a 5-4 win over Alaves.

Individually it was also a great year for Gerrard. He was named the PFA Young Player of the Year, and perhaps an even bigger boost came when he was named the PFA Fans Player of the Year, confirming his strong rapport with the supporters, not just of Liverpool, but of most clubs.

Liverpool were to focus more on the league after their unique treble for the next season, as they launched a serious title bid for the first time in a decade. In the end they finished second, but Gerrard and Liverpool had impressed.

His performances, influence and maturity belied his youthful years, and some were calling for him to be appointed captain. Gerard Houllier was not so hasty, however, sticking with the towering Sami Hyypia.

Even so, it was evident that Gerrard would be Liverpool skipper sooner rather than later.

That time came in October 2003 when Gerrard replaced the Finnish centre-back, despite only being 23 years old.

His performances were a rare shining light that season, however, as Liverpool finished trophy-less. It turned out to be Houllier's last season in charge with the club and, as a new era looked set to begin at Anfield, there was speculation over whether Gerrard was going to be there to see it.

Reported interest from Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich only fueled the fire. It was obvious that Gerrard wanted to stay at Liverpool, but for a player of his quality to go through his career without winning a major trophy would be a crime.

New boss Rafael Benitez persuaded him to stay at the club, promising that trophies would be coming during his tenure.

And Benitez proved himself to be an honest man as he became only the second person in Liverpool's history to win the Champions League (or European Cup) in his first season in charge as Liverpool completed a fairytale European campaign.

It ended in glory, with Liverpool coming back from a 3-0 deposit to win on penalties, with Gerrard scoring the first. But the whole season was filled with both high points and low points.

Those low points included Liverpool finishing fifth in the league, behind arch rivals Everton, and scoring an own goal in the League Cup final, which Liverpool ended up losing 3-2 to Chelsea.

High points came mostly in the Champions League, for Gerrard especially when he returned from injury to score the goal that put Liverpool into the Champions League group stage against Olympiakos, prompting Andy Gray's now legendary commentary.

He was also named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, and came third in the European Footballer of the Year.

Despite this, there was more speculation over his future. So much so that Rick Parry conceded that Liverpool had all but lost him to Chelsea. The very next day, however, Gerrard signed a new four year deal.

The very next year, Steven Gerrard showed his worth in the FA Cup final. Against West Ham, his two goals rescued the game for Liverpool, and they went on to win the final on penalties.

It made Gerrard the first and only player to have scored goals in all four major finals available to an English club side. It also led to him being named the PFA Player of the Year.

A year later he became the first man since John Aldridge in 1989 to score in seven consecutive games, a remarkable record for a midfielder.

He recently reached the 100 goal milestone against PSV Eindhoven with a typically thunderous strike.

He has twice been named in the FIFPro World XI, and six times has been named in the PFA Team of the Year, including every team for the past five seasons.

At just 28, he still has a number of good years left in the tank and, if he carries on like this, he is likely to become not only the greatest player to ever play for Liverpool, but one of the best English players of all time as well.

With over 450 appearances and 100 Liverpool goals to his name already, the Liverpool captain has already written his name in Liverpool folklore.

Steven Gerrard - The Liverpool Legend.

 

Click here to see more Liverpool Legends!

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