Although he never managed to win a league title, Steven Gerrard is still widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players – and for good reason.
The retired midfielder spent 17 years with Liverpool, scoring 120 goals and providing a further 92 assists in 504 league appearances.
He produced countless Man of the Match performances and inspired the Reds to glory in the 2005 Champions League and 2006 FA Cup finals.
Gerrard, who recently won the Scottish Premiership title as Rangers manager, also earned 114 caps for England.
Only Peter Shilton, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham have made more appearances for the Three Lions.
Despite all of Gerrard’s achievements, Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson caused a stir in his controversial 2013 autobiography by writing: “I’m one of the few who felt Gerrard was not a top, top player.”
It was a surprising admission from Ferguson, whose United sides struggled to deal with Gerrard on occasions.
Gerrard, who was named in the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Year eight times, was asked what he made of Fergie’s comments during an appearance on the Clare Balding show.
Despite conceding that he was “a bit gutted” to hear Ferguson’s assessment of him, the Anfield hero responded impressively.
“I went on trial at Manchester United when I was 13 and had a letter off them wanting to sign me on a seven-year deal,” he told the BT Sport presenter.
“I’m a huge fan of Alex Ferguson and what he’s done in the game is fantastic, that’s the reason why he’s sold that many copies in the first week.
“I was genuinely a little bit gutted when I read that, the reaction of the papers, when he said I’m not a top, top player. But I won’t lose sleep over it, everyone is entitled to their opinion.
“He tried to sign me in early 2002/03, he tried to sign me again to play for United, I obviously refused, so I can’t really take it to heart too much. But I’m a bit gutted because I’m a big fan of his.”
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It was the perfect response from Gerrard.
He revealed that Ferguson tried to sign him twice – first when he was a teenager, and the second time in 2002 – but he said no on both occasions.
This gives the impression that Ferguson’s comment about Gerrard not being a “top, top player” may have been borne out of, dare we say it, bitterness.
Why would Fergie have tried to sign the midfielder (twice) if he didn’t believe the midfielder was top class?