Captain Fantastic

“Cut my veins open and I bleed Liverpool Red”— he is a one-club player regarded as one of the best leaders ever to grace the football pitch.

A natural central midfielder, he loves to make darting runs from the centre of the park and his long range passing and shooting, coupled with his tackling ability makes him a player every manager would love to have in their side.

He has collected almost every club medal during 15 years in the first team and in 2006 was awarded an MBE by the Queen. The one piece of silverware that eludes him is the Premier League title.

 

Childhood

Steven George Gerrard was born on May 30, 1980 in Merseyside.  He started out playing for hometown team Whiston Juniors, where he was noticed by Liverpool scouts.

At the age of nine, he joined the Liverpool Academy. A serious injury whilst playing football could have ultimately ended his career before it begun.

A young Gerrard kicked his football into a bush full of nettles and tried to kick it out but accidentally kicked a garden fork which ended up going through his trainers and straight into his big toe.

The doctor at first thought his toe would have to be removed but that was not the case and he was allowed to join Liverpool soon.

 

Early Career

He signed his first professional contract with Liverpool on November 5, 1997. He made his first-team debut a year later in a Premier League match as a last-minute substitute.

He made thirteen appearances in his debut season, but he scarcely contributed in the short on-pitch time he received, due to nervousness affecting his play.

His second season at the club did not go well as injuries kept him out of the game. He suffered from nagging back problems due to accelerated growth, coupled with excessive playing, during his teenage years. Then, he was beset by groin injuries that required four separate operations.

In 2000-01, he came back strong and cemented his place in the first team with fifty starts in all competitions, scoring ten goals as he won his first major honours with Liverpool – the FA Cup, League Cup, and the UEFA Cup. 

Gerrard became the captain of the team in 2003 as his manager  recognised Gerrard his leadership qualities. This turned out to be a fantastic decision as Gerrard took his own game to new levels and acquired the name “Captain fantastic” from a number of pundits.

After a trophy less campaign 2003-04 campaign, Gerrard was linked with a move to rivals Chelsea during the off-season. He was disappointed with progress his club made, however, in the end, he turned down a £20 million offer from Chelsea to stay with Liverpool.

 

Miracle of Istanbul

During a six-minute stretch in the second half of the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan, Liverpool came back from a three-goal deficit to tie the match at 3–3 after extra time, with Gerrard scoring one of the goals.

Liverpool’s third goal was gained as a penalty from a foul awarded to Liverpool when Gerrard was pulled down in Milan’s penalty box.

Gerrard did not participate in the penalty shootout (he was the designated fifth penalty taker) which Liverpool won 3–2 as they claimed their first Champions League trophy in twenty years. Dubbed the Miracle of Istanbul, the match is widely regarded as one of the greatest finals in the competition’s history, and Gerrard was lauded as the catalyst for the second half comeback. 

Gerrard was named the Man of the Match, and later received the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award.

 

Continued success

After bringing home the Champions League, Gerrard turned down a club-record £100,000-a-week offer from Chelsea and signed a four year deal with Liverpool.

He scored 23 goals in 53 appearances in 2005–06 season. He continued to find the net as he played his 400th game for Liverpool in the next season.

He underwent a groin surgery before the start of the new season. He joined the team and went on to make his 100th appearance in European club competition for Liverpool scoring twice.

In the 2009 season, he made his 500th appearance and ended the season with a total of 12 goals and nine assists from 46 matches.

Three years later, Gerrard went on to help Liverpool to reach their first cup final in 6 years as Liverpool beat Manchester City 3–2 on aggregate in the semi-finals. Gerrard scored a penalty in both legs to send Liverpool to the 2012 Football League Cup Final, which Liverpool won on penalties.  

 

International Career

Gerrard made his international debut against Ukraine on May 31, 2000. Gerrard scored his first international goal in the famous 5–1 victory over Germany in a 2002 World Cup qualifier in 2001.

He was a regular starter in Euro 2004, scoring once to make it 3–0 in England’s win over Switzerland. Then, he went on to participate in his first World Cup in 2006 and scored two goals, both in the group stage.

Gerrard helped England qualify for the 2010 World Cup, scoring two goals in England’s 5–1 win over Croatia. When the England team left for the 2010 World Cup, Gerrard was the most experienced player in the squad with 80 caps. 

 

Personal Life

Gerrard is a practising Catholic. He and his wife, Alex Curran, married in a Catholic ceremony in June 2007. They have three daughters.

In 2006, Gerrard published his autobiography, ‘Gerrard: My Autobiography’, which went on to win the Sports Book of the Year honour at the British Book Awards.

The autobiography ends with “I play for Jon-Paul.” Gerrard’s cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, when Gerrard was eight. 

In October 2007, Gerrard was involved in a low-speed collision when the car he was driving hit a ten-year-old cyclist.

He later visited the boy in the hospital and presented him with a pair of boots signed by footballer Wayne Rooney, the boy’s favourite player, after which he stayed to sign autographs for other young patients. 

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