So, Stevie G did it again last night. With his team 1-0 down and struggling, the Liverpool captain came off the bench in the second half and scored a hat-trick in under 15 minutes, to give his team a 3-1 Europa League win over Napoli.
Watching the game though, it is so apparent that it’s not just Gerrard’s goals that the team and fans value. As soon as he came onto the pitch, the noise from all around the ground increased as the supporters responded to his introduction to proceedings.
And his teammates, lacklustre and largely uninspired in the first half, pulled their socks up and started playing like a team worthy of European competition.
Just how much the Liverpool players are lifted by their skipper was summed up by fellow scouser, Jamie Carragher, who said: “Stevie is just an unbelievable talent. You could see the crowd responded to him when he came on in the second half and he lifted everybody’s performance. He was outstanding and we were able to get out of a tight spot.”
Carragher went even further in his praise for Gerrard, adding: “He keeps on producing when it matters and, to me, that makes him the best player the club has ever had.”
‘The best player the club has ever had’. That is a bold statement and provides a huge talking point. At regular intervals over the years, my brother (also a Liverpool fan) and I have often discussed ‘our top 10 best ever Liverpool players’ and the player who always tops my list is ‘King Kenny’ Dalglish.
My brother has chosen Robbie Fowler in the past, and now chooses Gerrard. His argument is that while King Kenny was amazing, he had great players around him to help him do what he did, whereas Gerrard, although playing alongside some great players at various stages of his career, has not been constantly surrounded by players of the calibre of those who played with Dalglish.
There is also the fact that we, and all fans, are undoubtedly influenced by our own time. I watched Dalglish in his heyday, my brother, being younger, only saw him as his playing career was ending.
No doubt older fans could wax lyrical about Ian St John and rate him as the best ever, or going further back, Billy Liddell. However, Liverpool won two League titles back in the 1920s; what were those title-winning players like? We don’t know. Their talents may well have eclipsed those of Gerrard, Liddell, St John and every other talented player that has graced Anfield in more recent years.
The truth is that in football it is almost impossible to make unequivocal decisions regarding who is the best player ever. I think it’s probably diplomatic just to say that Gerrard is a fantastic player of his era, and one of Liverpool’s all time greats.
My hope is that 30 years into the future, when I am going misty eyed telling people how great Steven Gerrard was, young Liverpool fans will argue with me, talking about a great player of their own time of whom they will say: ‘He’s the best player the club has ever had’.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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