By: Aakash Munjal
Steven Gerrard: An Anfield Great, a Legend who inspired Liverpool FC
My Liverpool story is a sad one to some extent. When I started following the club, Liverpool had already lifted the Champions League trophy at Istanbul. Or should I say, Steven Gerrard had already inspired Liverpool to one of the greatest comeback the tournament will ever see. And to probably the greatest moment yet for any Liverpool fan.
But I knew the story of Istanbul (had watched the adrenaline filled video 100 times) and had always looked up to him as a great captain, player, a family man. He was always my hero. I always looked at his family and admired him for the man he is and he has a dream family.
For me it was always an “almost” perfect story. His passion and adrenaline during the big games always rushed thru my blood and I was always hoped that I will see a game that I will never forget in my life. I will never forget the free-kick he scored against United during the 2010 game which we lost 2-3. Stevie puts us back in the game twice: the perfect game was almost there, only to lose it in the end. But that was another hint of a Vintage Steven Gerrard.
Since then though I saw him doing his usual “peach pass” in many games, but best of the memories were in 2013-2014 season when he made so many goals for Suarez and Sturridge. And that game against Manchester City when we grabbed the winner with Coutinho goal. Stevie was all pumped up to tell his team, we won’t let it go this time. I was pumped up too and almost could not sleep many nights in anxiety. That was the one of the best games of my life as a Liverpool fan.I was waiting for my incomplete footballing story to get its perfect end. It ended in a manner none of us ever anticipated and left me with a grave feeling: something I would never be able to heal myself with. Now imagine what he would be going thru each day of his remaining life.
Having said that, no serious fan would ever blame him for us not winning the league. I would say it was yet another example of Steven Gerrard not getting his hand on that elusive trophy thanks to some mediocre team performance during the big games. I felt sad for him. I felt sad for myself.
But as Stevie himself says: he we go again. And how he almost re-created the Olympiakos during the Basel game is unbelievable. Well they say, sometimes it doesn’t happen twice. Golden moments are not repeated. I missed it in 2005, but my admiration for this man never will be reduced. And who says every story has to end perfectly. Some people leave a mark on your life irrespective. It’s never about the trophies in the cabinet, but about the Man on the Field.
If trophies were the criteria, he could have moved to Chelsea or Madrid long back. He chose to remain as a Loyal and Liverpool city’s most favourite son.
The news that Steven Gerrard will leave Liverpool football club at the end of 2014-2015 season might have come as a surprising but yet an inevitable one for many in the football fraternity, but it is still something that millions of Liverpool Faithfull are still recovering from.
This is not because Steven Gerrard is at the peak of his career or was part of Liverpool’s regular line up week in week out, nor because we were not contemplating something similar after he was left on bench for so many matches including on his 16 year anniversary appearance for Liverpool. But it’s because since his debut for Liverpool 16 years ago, he has been a star born for Liverpool football club.
It’s only fair to say that all Liverpool success during these 16 years came with Gerrard’s crucial contributions: he scored when Liverpool beat Alaves in 2001 UEFA cup final, in the league cup final against Manchester United in 2003, in the FA Cup final and who can forget his thriller against Olympiakos in December 2004, which took Liverpool out of group stages of Champions League final and then the first goal against AC Milan in the unforgettable comeback win in the final.
It was heartening to see him almost re doing the act for Liverpool during this year’s Champions League last group stage game against FC Basel with his trademark free-kick. It was “almost” another Gerrard Speared Breakthrough for Liverpool.
He will probably leave Liverpool with one regret: not winning the Premier League with the club. But, what he did with generally a mediocre Liverpool side (especially if you compare it with Dalglish times), for me, puts him as one of the greatest player ever played and lead Liverpool FC.
Liverpool FC supporters and admirers always looked up to Steven Gerrard as a midfielder who comes only second to Frank Lampard with respect to number of goals from a midfielder in Premier League, as a leader who lead the club to all the success they had in last 16 years, as one of the rare loyal footballer who served his club with same passion for more than a decade in spite of all the opportunities from different club.
His shoes will not be filled ever at Liverpool FC. He gave me some of the best moments to live with.
Thank you Steven Gerrard for the man you are.