Rumours were rife for the previous 2 weeks, "will he sign?", " Contract negotiations have broken down", "He wants more playing time", "He's off to the MLS" but then the inevitable happened. Following Liverpool's 2-2 draw against Leicester, the club called for a press conference on the Friday morning to make an announcement, by then everyone had knew the reasoning.
It's almost like a bad dream you never want to come true but the reality is, it was happening. The blue eyed boy from the Red half of Merseyside was calling it quits on his career as a player for Liverpool. Emotions overwhelmed at that time, silly might say but Gerrard was not just a player to me and I'm sure many share the same feelings. He is an inspiration, a role model, someone you look to for motivation. A couple years ago after his testimonial game I wrote a piece on why he is so important to me in: Not just a name, so in this post I'm not going to divulge into what kind of player and person he is but rather reasons to why he is leaving.
After the announcement I sat there wondering why? but it made sense to me. I remember when Thierry Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona, many said it was for money, others said it was for trophies Arsenal could not win but following his move to the Catalans, he spoke out in an interview saying that one of the main reasons for him leaving Arsenal was that the youngsters could shine. With him there, he was always the focus of attention and play generally revolved around him, he knew the talent Wenger had and felt his time was up and it was their time to shine. So the Walcott's and Fabregas's rose to fame in his absence.
Henry, a very close friend with Gerrard, as documented many a time would agree that Stevie is doing the something similar. When I play FIFA15 I have trouble deciding my midfield, we have got some excellent youngsters waiting in the wing but with Gerrard there, his name would always be first on the team list. Allen, Henderson, Markovic, Can, Lucas, to name a few, all are young, full of energy and ready to give it there all. Yes they might not have that gift Gerrard has of an all round player but if given freedom, you never know what you might end up discovering about one of them. Already Henderson has stepped up in leaps and bounds which saw him take the vice captain role in the team and I'm almost certain he will be Liverpool's new captain come the start of the 2015/2016 season.
The press greeted the announcement in mixed views, many questioned why Liverpool were letting him go, even old team mate Jamie Carragher brought it up that the club should have tried harder to persuade him to stay. I think Stevie had his mind pretty much made up though. He knows he is old, turning 35 in the summer, he hasn't got the pace and energy that he had 10 years ago. He made mention about this in the emotional interview he had with LFC TV. So it was only fair to others that the manager treated his age and performance with the best interest of the club. He was told that he would be rested more, that means no guaranteed place in the starting 11. After 26 years with the club, and starting almost all of the games this would be a shock to any player and as he made mention in an interview, he isn't ready to be a squad player.
Fans of the opposition sides, especially those from Manchester questioned his "legendary" status, saying that a real legend would end his career at the club. For me thats nonsense, Gerrard has nothing more to prove to anyone, let alone the fans of his club. We know what he did for us in those years of service. He made us smile, he made us cry, he made us jump from our seats with joy. His passion flowed with us and it's that connection he had with the fans that made him unlike no other player. You can't compare Stevie to anyone, not Scholes, not Lampard, not Giggs or Henry, he is his own legend and if you ask those players they would agree.
The outpouring show of emotions from fans via the various social media streams was there for the world to see but players who had the chance to play alongside the talismanic captain also gave their appreciation to the great player. It was quite touching to see the players send their tributes via twitter, none more so touching than the message from Xabi Alonso which I'm sure left no Liverpool fan with a dry eye. He was a players player, a fans player and a managers player as every manger who worked with him only spoke in praise.
Being his last season at Anfield, he is still missing one medal from his collection, the Premiership, there's still 6 months to do it but it doesn't look likely... then again at half time in Istanbul, no one could ever imagine Liverpool lifting that trophy at the end but one man didn't give up and that man was Gerrard. He said he wants to end his career at the club on a high and he has every right to do so, we're still in contention for the FA Cup, in the semi finals of the League Cup and have the Europa League to fight for as well, so here's hoping we win some silverware for Stevie, our hero, Mr Liverpool, Captain Fantastic, Legend.
You'll Never Walk Alone