I can’t imagine a Liverpool Football Club without Steven Gerrard. In my 12 or so years of supporting Liverpool the club has seemed to be in constant transition with change on and off the field never too far away. Managers have come and gone, with varying levels of success, new owners have come in, with sometimes almost fatal consequences, and star players have signed and moved on. During that time there have been few constants, Liverpool have played in red, their home has been Anfield and Steven Gerrard has been the cornerstone of Liverpool Football Club.
I simply can’t imagine Liverpool without Steven Gerrard because, to me and hundreds of thousands of reds of similar age, I have never experienced life without him. To us, those who weren’t even born when Liverpool last won the league, Stevie has just always been there. He has always been the man who has led by example, the man who has dragged Liverpool from the darkness of defeat time and time again and who has carried such a big club on his shoulders for so long. For me, growing up with Steven Gerrard as the captain and leader of my beloved club has shaped who I am. He has matured as a man as I have grown up and he has gone from being simply a boyhood hero to a deeply respected role model. From how he conducts himself on and off the pitch, when dealing with fellow professionals and the press, to how he copes with disappointment and failure; the man is sheer class.
I have always been jealous of my Dad who, born in the 1960s, experienced the rise of Liverpool Football Club as the greatest side in Europe. He was there in 78’, 81’ and 05’ and he grew up at a time when Liverpool were simply expected to win the league. It’s difficult to not feel jealous when you have had to grow up surrounded by stories and tales from the past.
I’d like to think that Steven Gerrard is my consolation. The man has given me so many treasured memories, Olympiakos, Istanbul, Cardiff, and the title challenges of 2009 and 2014. Unquestionably, not winning the Premier League will be his biggest disappointment, especially since he could have easily won countless league titles if he played for Manchester United or Chelsea. But despite the way that we lost the title last season with the slip against Chelsea and the collapse at Palace, the memories of last season will stay with me for a long time. His header against Everton, his winner away to Fulham, 2 goals at Old Trafford, his reaction after the 3-2 win against Manchester City, to me it felt like Steven Gerrard was reborn.
World Cup failure, the resignation of the England captaincy and retirement from the international game followed the disappointing end to last season. He then came back to a Liverpool side without Suarez or Sturridge, with a number of new signings to fit in, and a new role which would reduce his number of starts and appearances for Liverpool. Therefore, I’m not surprised that Stevie is going to leave after what he has been through in the last year and I’m not surprised that he wants to leave the country given his love for the club and that he has been roundly mocked by opposition fans for his slip.
I’m not surprised but I’m shocked, however. His last appearance for the club will undoubtedly be an incredibly emotional day. It will feel like an end of an era for Stevie himself, the club, for me personally, and for anyone who has grown up with him. Stevie has been a permanent part of my life for as long as I can remember, for example I’ve never had a desktop background that hasn’t been Steven Gerrard, to suddenly lose that part of my life that has always been there will be very difficult.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of talk about where Steven Gerrard stands among the rest of the Liverpool legends. For me, Stevie is unquestionably Liverpool’s greatest ever player. Maybe it would be a different answer if I, like my Dad, grew up and witnessed Dalglish in his prime, but I believe that unlike any other player in the club’s history, Steven Gerrard embodies Liverpool Football Club.
For those who have grown up with Steven Gerrard they can’t imagine life without him because they don’t know what it is like. Stevie has been as big a part in their life as Liverpool Football Club has and it leads me to believe that the man embodies the club. I’m sure that, for many of you, your lives have been shaped by football. For example, certain events in your life will coincide with a great team, a cup triumph, or a great player. I have spent my childhood watching and idolising Steven Gerrard. Stevie’s departure will coincide with my 18th birthday and my departure from home and the start of a new adventure at University. In other words, today feels like my childhood is coming to an end. For me, and I’m sure for many Liverpool fans of the same age, today is a sad day which is an end of an era. It has been an absolute privilege to grow up with Steven Gerrard as my idol, and I know that I will never feel the same way about a Liverpool player ever again. Thank you for being such a big part of my life Steven Gerrard, thank you for the memories.