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Finding Neverland Blog Archive

Friday, May 16, 2014

All About Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard or Stevie G as he is called, is a natural central midfielder who can play in other positions with equal aplomb. He loves to make darting runs from the center of the park into the striking area 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.

Early Life.

Born in Whiston, Merseyside, Gerrard started out playing for hometown team Whiston Juniors, where he was noticed by Liverpool scouts. He later joined the Liverpool Academy at the age of nine. Gerrard then had trials with various clubs at fourteen, but his success wasn't immediate — Gerrard never made it into the England schoolboys' team. Gerrard's trials included Manchester United, which he claimed in his 2006 autobiography was "to pressure Liverpool into giving me a YTS contract." He signed his first professional contract with Liverpool on 5 November 1997.

Gerrard attended the Cardinal Heenan Catholic high school in West Derby, Liverpool. Unlike Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher and other famous Liverpool players who were childhood Everton fans, Gerrard was a Kopite from the beginning and joined his beloved club as a trainee when he was a school boy.

Steven Gerrard Young

Beginnings.

Gerrard made his Liverpool first-team debut on 29 November 1998 in a Premier League match against Blackburn Rovers as a last-minute substitute for Vegard Heggem. He made thirteen appearances in his debut season, filling in for injured captain Jamie Redknapp in centre-midfield. He also occasionally played on the right wing, but he scarcely contributed in the short on-pitch time he received, due to nervousness affecting his play. Gerrard recalled in a November 2008 interview with The Guardian, "I was out of position and out of my depth." The Liverpool hierarchy nonetheless remained convinced that he would improve. Gerrard saw himself as a defensive player primarily, looking to make key tackles rather than push the team forward.

Gerrard began to regularly partner Redknapp in central midfield for the 1999–2000 season. After starting the derby against Everton on the bench, he replaced Robbie Fowler in the second half but received his first career red card for a late foul on Everton's Kevin Campbell shortly afterwards. Later that season, Gerrard scored his first senior goal in a 4–1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. However, he began to suffer from nagging back problems, which sports consultant Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt later diagnosed as a result of accelerated growth, coupled with excessive playing, during his teenage years. He was then beset by groin injuries that required four separate operations.

He went on to recover from this, and in the 2000–01 season made fifty starts in all competitions and scored ten goals as he won his first major honours with Liverpool – the FA Cup, League Cup, and the UEFA Cup. In the following season, he would go on to win both the FA Charity Shield and UEFA Super Cup.

Struggles and uncertainty.

After a year as Liverpool vice-captain, Gerrard replaced Sami Hyypiä as Liverpool captain in October 2003, as manager Gérard Houllier said that he recognised Gerrard had demonstrated leadership qualities early on, but needed to mature. He chose to extend his contract at the club, signing a new four-year deal.

Steven Gerrard Celebration

Houllier resigned as Liverpool manager after a trophyless 2003–04 campaign, and Gerrard was linked with a move to Chelsea during the off-season. He admitted he was not "happy with the progress Liverpool has made", and that "for the first time in my career I've thought about the possibility of moving on." In the end, Gerrard turned down a £20 million offer from Chelsea to stay with Liverpool and new coach Rafael Benítez.

Breakthrough and trophies.

Liverpool were wracked with injury early in the 2004–05 season, and a foot injury suffered in a September league match against Manchester United shelved Gerrard until late November. He returned to score in the last five minutes of a Champions League group stage match against Olympiacos to secure Liverpool's advancement to the knockout round.[23] He claimed that this was his most important, if not his best, goal for Liverpool to date. However, Gerrard netted an own goal during the 2005 League Cup final on 27 February, which proved decisive in Liverpool's 3–2 loss to Chelsea.

During a six-minute stretch in the second half of the 2005 Champions League final against A.C. 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 Gennaro Gattuso was judged to have pulled down Gerrard in Milan's penalty box. Gerrard did not participate in the penalty shootout (he was the designated 5th penalty taker) which Liverpool won 3–2 as they claimed their first Champions League trophy in twenty years. Gerrard was named the Man of the Match, and later received the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award.

Steven Gerrard Champions League Winner 2005

In regards to his contract issues with Liverpool, Gerrard told the press after the final, "How can I leave after a night like this?" But negotiations soon stalled and on 5 July 2005, after Liverpool turned down another lucrative offer from Chelsea, Gerrard rejected a club-record £100,000-a-week offer. Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry conceded the club had lost Gerrard, saying, "Now we have to move on. We have done our best, but he has made it clear he wants to go and I think it looks pretty final." The next day, Gerrard signed a new four-year deal as Parry blamed the earlier breakdown of talks on miscommunication between the two sides.

Gerrard scored 23 goals in 53 appearances in 2005–06, and in April became the first Liverpool player since John Barnes in 1988 to be voted the PFA Player of the Year. He scored twice in the 2006 FA Cup Final against West Ham United, including an equalizer that sent the match into extra time, and Liverpool won their second consecutive major trophy on penalties. The goals made him the only player to have scored in the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League finals. Gerrard netted a penalty as Liverpool eliminated league rival Chelsea in the 2006–07 Champions League semi-finals to return to their second final in three seasons, which they lost 2–1 to Milan.

Gerrard suffered a toe fracture in an August 2007 Champions League qualifier against Toulouse, but returned four days later to play the entirety of a 1–1 league draw against Chelsea. On 28 October 2007, Gerrard played his 400th game for Liverpool in a league match against Arsenal, in which he scored. He scored in all but one of Liverpool's domestic and European matches during the month of November, and after scoring the only goal in a Champions League away tie against Olympique de Marseille on 11 December, he became the first Liverpool player since John Aldridge in 1989 to score in seven consecutive games in all competitions.

Continued success and stardom.

Gerrard made his 300th Premier League appearance on 13 April 2008 in a match against Blackburn Rovers, scoring the opening goal in a game which Liverpool won 3–1, and finished the season with twenty-one goals in all competitions, surpassing his total from the 2006–07 season. Gerrard was selected for the PFA Team of the Year and he was also one of the nominees or the PFA Player of the Year, alongside teammate Fernando Torres.

Gerrard needed to undergo groin surgery at the beginning of the 2008–09 season, but the problem was not serious and he quickly returned to training. He scored what appeared to be his hundredth career Liverpool goal against Stoke City on 20 September, but it was disallowed after Dirk Kuyt was ruled offside. He achieved the milestone eleven days later in a 3–1 Champions League group stage win over PSV.

He made his 100th appearance in European club competition for Liverpool on 10 March 2009 against Real Madrid and scored twice in a 4–0 win. Four days after the impressive victory over Real, Gerrard would score at Old Trafford for the first time from the penalty spot, putting Liverpool ahead on their way to a 4–1 victory over Manchester United. Following these results, three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane hailed the Liverpool skipper as being the best player in the world. On 22 March 2009, Gerrard scored his first ever hat-trick in the Premier League, against Aston Villa, in a 5–0 victory.

On 13 May 2009, Gerrard was named as the 2009 Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year, becoming the first Liverpool player to win the award in nineteen years. Gerrard had pipped Manchester United duo Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney in the poll voted for by journalists, beating Ryan Giggs by just 10 votes. Upon receiving the award, he was quoted as saying "I'm delighted but I'm a little bit surprised", he commented. "When you look at the quality of the players there are in this league, it's a great privilege to win this kind of award." On 5 December 2009, Gerrard made his 500th appearance for Liverpool in a 0–0 draw at Blackburn where he was accused of a diving incident in an attempt to win a penalty, after multiple instances of Gerrard being accused of simulation while playing for both club and country. Gerrard himself has been vocal in his criticism of diving. He ended the 2009–10 season with a total of 12 goals and 9 assists from 46 matches.

Following the 2009–10 season, Rafael Benítez departed Liverpool after six years and was succeeded as manager by Roy Hodgson, who quickly assured fans that Gerrard would not be sold. To further eliminate any speculation surrounding his future at the club, Gerrard made a statement emphasising his excitement at the coming season with Liverpool and praising the signing of Joe Cole. Gerrard soon played his first pre-season match of the 2010–11 season against Borussia Mönchengladbach on 1 August 2010 alongside new signing Joe Cole.

Steven Gerrard Free Kick

Gerrard scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season from the penalty spot in a Europa League qualifier against Macedonian side FK Rabotnički on 5 August 2010.

His next two goals came on 19 September at Old Trafford in a 3–2 loss against Manchester United; he scored from a penalty kick in the 64th minute and a free-kick 6 minutes later to level the game at 2–2. He followed this up one week later with the second equaliser in a 2–2 home draw with Sunderland. Eleven days later, Gerrard came off the bench to score a second-half hat-trick in a 3–1 win over Napoli in the UEFA Europa League.

Gerrard missed the start of the 2011–2012 season due to a groin injury, which had kept him out of action for large parts of the 2010–2011 season as well. Gerrard later went on to reveal he rejected the chance to join Bayern Munich in the summer to focus on getting Liverpool back in the Champions League, saying "...a traditional club like Liverpool still has a value, that’s the reason why I have stuck around for so long...it is more important to win a couple of trophies and achieve something that is a lot more difficult than go down the easy road and move to a club where it becomes easier." Gerrard would eventually make his first start for Liverpool squad in an October match at Anfield against fierce rivals Manchester United. Gerrard scored Liverpool's only goal in the match, from a direct free kick, which ended in a 1–1 draw.

On 29 October, Gerrard underwent a treatment to clear an infection in his right ankle, which was placed in a protective plaster cast. He was forced to miss Liverpool's league match against West Bromwich that day and was ruled out for at least the following week's match against Swansea City the following week and England's friendly matches against Sweden and Spain the week after. After a prolonged ankle injury recuperation, Gerrard finally returned to regular first team action in the match against Blackburn Rovers, coming off the bench. On 30 December, Gerrard came off the bench against Newcastle United and scored a fine goal.

Gerrard went on to help Liverpool to reach their first cup final in 6 years, and their first at Wembley Stadium in 18 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 against Cardiff City on 26 February 2012, which Liverpool won on penalties. On his 400th Premier League appearance for Liverpool, Gerrard scored a hat-trick to give Liverpool a 3–0 victory over rivals Everton in the Merseyside Derby on 13 March 2012. On 18 August 2012, Gerrard played his 250th match as Liverpool captain. He scored his first Premier League goal of the season on 23 September, opening the scoring in a 2–1 defeat against Manchester United.

On 15 July 2013, Gerrard signed a contract extension with Liverpool. On 3 August 2013, Liverpool played Olympiacos, against whom Gerrard scored arguably his most celebrated goal, at Anfield for Gerrard's charity fund-raising testimonial match, with the money raised from the match going to Alder Hey Children's Charity. Liverpool won the match 2–0, in a game where past players such as Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler made appearances. After the game, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany gave a glowing tribute to Gerrard, saying "Steven G is awesome...best Premier League player I’ve ever played against. On 16 September, Gerrard captained Liverpool for the 400th time in a 2–2 draw at Swansea City. On 5 October, Gerrard scored in a 3–1 win over Crystal Palace, becoming Liverpool's first ever player to score in 15 successive league campaigns, overtaking the record previously set by Liverpool legend Billy Liddell. On 19 October 2013, Gerrard scored his 100th Premier League goal, a penalty against Newcastle United in a 2–2 draw.

International career.

Gerrard made his international debut against Ukraine on 31 May 2000. That summer, he was called up for Euro 2000, making only one appearance as a substitute in a 1–0 win over Germany before England were eliminated in the group stage. Gerrard scored his first international goal in the famous 5–1 victory over Germany in a 2002 World Cup qualifier in September 2001, and while England qualified, Gerrard was forced to pull out of the squad due to his ongoing groin problems after pulling up in Liverpool's final match of the season against Ipswich.

Steven Gerrard England

Gerrard scored his second goal for the national team in the Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia on 16 October 2002 in a 2–2 draw, his third goal was the opener in a 2–1 win over Serbia and Montenegro on 3 June 2003. He was a regular starter in Euro 2004, scoring once to make it 3–0 in England's win over Switzerland in the second Group game of the tournament but England would be eliminated by the tournament hosts Portugal in the quarter-finals losing 6–5 on penalties in a match when Gerrard was substituted off in the 81st minute for Owen Hargreaves.

He participated in his first World Cup in 2006 and scored two goals, both in the group stage, against Trinidad & Tobago and Sweden, although his spot kick was one of three saved by goalkeeper Ricardo as England again bowed out to Portugal in the quarter-finals on penalties. He was England's top scorer in the tournament.

Gerrard was made vice-captain of the England team by coach Steve McClaren, and while he filled in for John Terry as captain, England suffered back-to-back losses to Russia and Croatia that ended their Euro 2008 qualifying hopes. After new coach Fabio Capello took over the team in early 2008, Gerrard was given a trial run as captain but Capello settled on Terry for the role. Gerrard was subsequently replaced as England vice-captain by Rio Ferdinand.

Gerrard helped England qualify for the 2010 World Cup, scoring two goals in England's 5–1 win over Croatia. John Terry was replaced by Rio Ferdinand as captain in 2010, following revelations about the former's private life, and Gerrard subsequently became vice-captain again. When the England team left for the 2010 World Cup, Gerrard was the most experienced player in the squad with 80 caps. During preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, however, Rio Ferdinand was injured, meaning that Gerrard was appointed by Capello as captain for the tournament. After the tournament Gerrard, part of a group of England players dubbed the "Golden Generation", confirmed that he would continue to be available for selection, despite suggestions from Capello that he would seek to re-build the team.

Captain

In August 2010, Gerrard scored twice in a friendly match against Hungary and helped England to a 2–1 win. Due to Ferdinand's continued absence through injury, Gerrard retained the captaincy for the opening match of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign against Bulgaria, which England won 4–0. He was later named permanent captain by new coach Roy Hodgson, in time for the Euro 2012. This was the first time that he was named directly the captain of England and not in place of an injured or unavailable captain. He provided three assists and won two man of the match awards to help England finish top of their group in the qualifying round, and go through to the quarter-finals. Despite their exit on penalties to Italy, Gerrard was later the only England player to be named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament. On 14 November 2012, Gerrard won his 100th cap for England in a friendly match against Sweden.

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