Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard celebrated his 40th birthday this weekend.
It's a fact that must make those who watched the former England midfielder in his pomp feel incredibly old and it's certainly crazy to think that he hung up his boots four long years ago.
Gerrard sparking the comeback in the 2005 Champions League final, dominating an FA Cup final enough to have it named after him and generally scoring screamers each week feels like it happened just yesterday.
But this latest landmark in Gerrard's life shouldn't merely dishearten us that it's been so long since his playing days, it should also give us an excuse to look back on everything he did for the game.
Besides, wherever you sit on the never-ending Gerrard vs Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard debate, we can all accept that the Liverpudlian is one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.
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Quotes about Gerrard
And there's no better way for us to prove this point by listing what Gerrard's old teammates, coaches and even rivals thought about him when he was tearing up pitches across Europe.
From Zinedine Zidane to Sir Alex Ferguson waxing lyrical about 'Stevie G', there's plenty of evidence for his supreme talent, so check out some of the greatest compliments down below:
“What I have always liked of Steven is that on the pitch he was very quiet, but was capable of inspiring all his team-mates with great strength, not so much with words.
"The real example – and that is what I’ve learned from players like Steven and Franco Baresi – is to do rather than talk.
“And he was indeed one who did a lot and since he also had great talent, he was easy to follow. His story is one of those stories to be told, one of those fairytales, to be narrated to your children and grandchildren.”
"The fans, they look only for forwards, always a forward. Somebody who scores. Sometimes you have a player like Gerrard. For me, for the last five years Gerrard has been the best player in the world.
"He is a midfielder, he plays very good. People didn't mention Gerrard, now they mention Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Messi because they are forwards."
"It was a disgrace he didn’t win European Footballer of the Year after Istanbul in 2005 and, for me, he will be regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time."
“While at Milan he Ancelotti came to me and said, ‘I want to sign Steven Gerrard to play next to you in midfield – what do you think?’ Without any hesitation I told him, ‘Do it – go and sign him.’
"At this stage he was probably the most complete midfield player in Europe, of course I wanted to partner him.
“I remember asking Carlo a few weeks later how it was going, and he told me Gerrard had given a very firm no, that his bond with Liverpool was unbreakable.
"At the time Milan were the champions of Europe and probably had the best team in the world – it says a lot about Gerrard’s loyalty.”
“The highest compliment I can pay him is that he’s as creative as a Xavi at Barcelona, with something extra as well.
"When you add his energy, toughness, leadership and goalscoring ability and the result is a fantastic all-round player. He is without doubt the greatest player I have ever played with, he has everything.”
"I have played alongside some of the greatest footballers of my generation, but there is only one ex-team-mate I would rate higher than Steven Gerrard.
"The biggest compliment I can give him is he is second only to Zinedine Zidane in terms of his world-class status.
“There are some who argue Gerrard cannot be rated so highly because he does not have the medal haul to compare with, say, the Manchester United players.
“It is preposterous to judge a player’s ability based on his trophy collection. There are dozens of players who have several Premier League winners’ medals who are not fit to lace Gerrard’s boots.”
"There was a point when Gerrard was the best midfield player in the world. It is unusual to get complete midfield players who can do everything, but that is what he was.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
“If you were looking for the player you would replace Keane with, it would be Gerrard, without question. He has become the most influential player in England, bar none. More than Vieira.
"Not that Vieira lacks anything, but I think that Gerrard does more for his team than Vieira does, and has way more to his game.
“I’ve watched him quite a lot. To me, Gerrard is Keane. Everywhere the ball is, he seems to be there. He’s got that unbelievable engine, desire, determination. Anyone would love to have Gerrard in their team.”
“Steven Gerrard would be the captain of my World XI dream team. Gerrard is a complete player because he can play in every position and can do everything with a football at any time in a game.
“He’s a player who scores goals, who builds the play, he’s a sensational player.”
“I think Steven Gerrard is a fantastic player. He has been loyal to his club, he has won some big trophies with the club. He feels more an international player rather than a normal English player.
“English players have big hearts, always fighting, very aggressive, but Gerrard, for me, feels more international. He has more skills than the normal player.
"Every time we play against Steven, the coach always says to be careful with that player because he is the player who makes the difference.”
"I like Gerrard. Because we had this challenge between ourselves in 2005 and 2007, I really admire him. Of course, Lampard was pretty amazing, Scholes the classic. But I'll have Gerrard."
Imagine receiving those compliments from those players. Wowsers.
So, the next time you're about to drop a GIF of Gerrard slipping in a comments section, perhaps remember what a whole stream of Ballon d'Or winners and sports legends thought of him. He was, by all accounts, rather good at football...News Now - Sport News