Yesterday Steven Gerrard announced his retirement from professional football, we all knew this day would come after he left his beloved childhood club of Liverpool for new pastures in the USA to play out the reminder of his career. There was always this hope that many of us had that after his stint in the US, Steven would return to Liverpool in limited capacity to play for the Reds one last time before he bid farewell to the footballing world but as with him, he demands perfection, firstly from himself before others and as he said in his interview with BT Sports, he felt he couldn't give his best all the time on the field and that doesn't sit well with him. He is a perfectionist, we've seen it for ourselves, everything he does, everyone he plays with knows this as well, hence he built such great respect from players world over.
The tributes that started to pour in for him from current to former players and greats of the game since the announcement speaks volumes about the player he was. One of the worlds greatest midfielders, if not the best. Yes there will be those who will argue this as he did not win a league title in his career but with winning the league, it's down to team work and not one individual, those who know this are the players themselves, and is why they still rated him so highly and voted for him as their choice to make many teams of the year and so on.
It's not a time to focus on negatives though, its about celebrating what Stevie did for football and what he did for Liverpool Football Club. I count myself as fortunate to witness his career from the time he debuted, till his last game for the club, yes it wasn't the best way to say goodbye but team was in a bit of turmoil at the time. He knew things would change, low and behold, 2 years later and we find ourselves fighting with the best in the land, right back up where we belong. No one will be more prouder about this than Stevie.
There has been so many highlights in his career, that to select a few would be wrong but ones that do stand out for me personally would be. The goal he scored against Manchester United in the 2000/1 season at Anfield, it left a lot of people with their jaw on the flaw for obvious reason.
The "oh you beauty! against Olympiakos in 2004/5 Champions League season. I like many sat watching the game, praying for a miracle (which wouldn't be the last time I did so and it delivered). The strike was superb, bottom right corner, giving the keeper no chance, but something that many don't pick up was the lovely cushioned header Neil Mellor provided for Gerrard, regardless he still had to hit it sweetly and boy he did!
THAT match, 3-0 down, starting the second half on the back foot, digging deep to fight for a way back and producing a headed goal not only to ignite the greatest comeback in footballing history but bring back belief that anything is possible.
The goal that literally killed some people, scoring Liverpool's 3rd in a pulsating FA Cup Final in the dying minutes to send the tie into extra time. It's goal that till this day I don't understand how much force it was hit at to get in from so far out.
His season with Fernando Torres that saw the pair become one of the most feared in the league, there was nothing they couldn't do. Gerrard brought the best out of Nando and till this day Torres admits that was the best part of his career, playing along side Stevie.
When Suarez came in, we didn't know what we brought in and while his partnership with Sturridge was making headlines, it was Stevie who played a pivotal behind the scenes role which both will justify to their goal scoring success.
I don't think Football will ever see a more complete footballer in the near future, while there are current greats, Gerrard brought that unique style that only he can produce. He will be missed, that is for sure, there is mermers of him taking up a role as one of the coaching staff at Liverpool which would be great, but for now we would like to salute the player he was and the legend he has become.
YNWA Steven Gerrard