“Those are the moments that the Liverpool fans will remember” said the commentator as Steven Gerrard crashed an unstoppable missile into the Middlesbrough net during the 2004-2005 Premier League season.
A goal like that would be the defining moment of most player’s careers, yet that wasn’t even the highlight of Gerrard’s season.
That came when he captained Liverpool to the most incredible comeback in football history, clawing back a three goal deficit against AC Millan to miraculously win the Champions League via a penalty shootout in Istanbul.
When Hernan Crespo scored to make it 3-0 to AC Milan in the first half, Andy Gray screamed ‘game well and truly over’. And it would have been, if Steven Gerrard wasn’t playing. Liverpool came back from the dead, spearheaded by an indomitable Gerrard, who delivered one the most inspiring displays ever seen on a football pitch for the duration of that famous final.
Watching Gerrard lift the Champions League trophy would bring a tear to a glass eye - it proved that dreams do come true. That night his wildest boyhood fantasy was fulfilled because he dared to be great. It was poetic that his defiance in the face of adversity, his stubborn refusal to let his dream die, was rewarded with the greatest prize in club football. That it was done in such extraordinary circumstances gives an almost mythical air to Gerrard’s Liverpool love affair.
At that point in his career, Gerrard was in his prime. He was peerless. It seemed that he scored a wonder strike every other week. Every major club in world football wanted Gerrard as their main man in the midfield.
As a Scottish fan, with no real affinity for Liverpool, I wanted Gerrard to jump ship when Liverpool began to sink in a sea of mediocrity. Despite having an army of admirers, such as Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, Gerrard spurned all advances, staying faithful to his one and only love: Liverpool FC.
If he had allowed his head to rule his heart, his trophy cabinet would be overflowing with Premier League medals. Yet nothing could ever compare to the joy and emotion of lifting trophies for his true love. 10 league titles for Chelsea couldn’t hold a candle to his solitary Champions League success with Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard would have been a stranger in his own skin had he swapped the red of Liverpool for the blue of Chelsea. In fact, Gerrard would have been an imposter in borrowed robes if he played for any other football club not called Liverpool during his halcyon days.
In an age where a guy with a million views on Lad Bible is considered a legend, Gerrard really is deserving of the title. No tribute is too high for such a world class talent. On the eve of your last home game for the club, I just want to say thanks for the memories, Mr Liverpool.
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