Happy Birthday Steven Gerrard!
Born in Whiston Gerrard started out with his local team Whiston Juniors until he was noticed by Liverpool scouts at eight years old. He worked his way up through the ranks and got his breakthrough in 1998 when Jamie Redknapp got injured. He featured in 13 games and impressed a lot of people in his first Merseyside Derby where he started at right-back and made two goal-line clearances as Liverpool overcame their rivals.
England took notice of his performances and he was nominated captain of the under 18’s side and made his debut for the under 21’s in September 1999. Houllier had faith in the youngster and named him in the starting line-up alongside Redknapp at the beginning of the 1999/00 season. He was replaced eight games into the season, which was the Merseyside Derby, by Didi Hamman which he was unhappy about and came on as a substitute, he was later sent off in this match due to a bad tackle and was banned for three games. He returned after his three match ban raring to go and got his first goal for the club against Sheffield Wednesday on 5th Decemeber 1999, his goals impressed everyone after he dribbled past three defenders before finishing decisively.
He made his International debut on 31st May 2000 at age 20 in a 2-0 win against Ukraine at Wembley. Due to being a newcomer in the squad, he only made one appearance at Euro 2000 when he came on for Michael Owen in a win over Germany. England failed to qualify from their group but the young lad from Liverpool had sure come far. His career had rose rapidly in the 2000/01 season, he made 50 appearances for Liverpool, won the League Cup and FA Cup and scored a goal in the memorable 5-4 win over Alaves in the UEFA Cup Final and was also named the Professional Footballers Associations Young Player of the Year.
Liverpool continued to perform well under Houllier and finished second in the league in the 2001/02 season. Gerrard missed out on England’s World Cup campaign through injury but the following season he was named Liverpool captain by manager Gerrard Houllier. Houllier left the club and in came Spanish manager Rafa Benitez, Gerrard elevated his status at the club with the manager and fans after scoring an incredible goal against Olympiacos which guaranteed the Reds progress from the group stages of the Champions League. Fast forward to May 2005 where Gerrard led the team out in the final of the competition against AC Milan, 3-0 down at half-time meant that Liverpool had to make a change and do it quickly, Gerrard’s header nine minutes into the second half started one of football’s greatest comebacks with Liverpool pulling three goals back and beating Milan on penalties to take the European Cup back to Anfield.
The skippers contract was renewed in the summer and Gerrard scored over 20 goals for Liverpool in the 2005/06 season and capped off the season by beating West Ham in the final of the FA Cup with Gerrard scoring a screamer in the dying minutes of the game to keep Liverpool within contention of winning the cup. He featured for England in their World Cup campaign in 2006, playing five games and scoring two goals however he missed a penalty as England were eliminated by Portugal in the quarter-finals.
He had another stunning season in 2006/07 and played in 52 of a maximum 59 competitive matches with his goal tally reaching double figures for the fifth successive season. Liverpool again reached the Champions League final but with Milan on the hunt for revenge, the Reds fell short of adding a sixth European Cup. He continued to be a huge influence for the team in both the 2007/08 and 2008/09 season and added 96 appearances and 45 goals to his tally. He scored twice as Liverpool overcame Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield in the last 16 of the Champions League but were unable to stop Chelsea in the following round and exited the competition.
He was named captain of the England team when injury ruled out Rio Ferdinand for the 2010 World Cup. He responded to some criticism by scoring against the United States in their opening game and played in all four of England’s matches. Come the 2010/11 season, Gerrard featured in the fewest number of competitive matches in featuring just 24 out of 54 games since his first full season in 1999/00. He underwent a groin operation just before the beginning of the 2011/12 season but other injuries restricted him from playing meaning he only made 28 appearances. He was fit enough to lead the team out in both of the domestic cup finals at Wembley with Liverpool beating Cardiff to lift our first trophy for six years. In November 2012 he became the sixth Englishman to reach a century of caps for his country joining other illustrious names like Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and David Beckham.
Although he fell short in his quest for a Premier League winners’ medal in 2013/14, he still had a significant season becoming Liverpool’s longest serving captain in the club’s history and moved past Ray Clemence and Emlyn Hughes into third place in the club’s all-time competitive appearance list with only Jamie Carragher (737) and Ian Callaghan (857) now ahead of him, he also went past Kenny Dalglish’s total of 173 Liverpool goals to move just ten behind Robbie Fowler’s 183. Gerrard was a part of England World Cup squad in Brazil playing from the start and captaining his country in the opening two group matches against Italy and Uruguay. After the World Cup Gerrard confirmed his retirement from International football after a fourteen-year spell making a total of 114 full international caps.
In January 2015, Liverpool football club released a statement on it’s official website confirming that Steven Gerrard will leave the club at the end of the 2014/15 season after 17 years. Sadly, the season didn’t end on a high with Liverpool being beaten in the semi-final stage of both domestic cup competitions. He did reach 500 Premier League appearances and seven hundred in all competitions and moved past Robbie Fowler in total number of goals with 186.
Gerrard continued his career with MLS side LA Galaxy scoring on his debut and assisting former Liverpool teammate Robbie Keane. After his first season he decided not renew his contract with the side and called time on his playing career.
He finished his Liverpool career with 710 appearances and 186 goals and winning x2 FA Cups, x3 League cups, x1 Champions League, x1 UEFA Cup, x1 PFA Young player of the Year, x1 FWA Footballer of the Year and x2 PFA Fans’ Player of the Year.
Article by Lauren Black @LaurenBlack9