||Squad number: 8
Date of Birth: 30/05/1980
1st team games: 614
1st team goals: 155
Birth Place: Whiston
Every once in a while a player comes along who is something special. Not just a world class player, but one who inspires his less talented team mates to produce world class performances, a player who doesn’t know the meaning of losing and refuses to sit back and be beaten. Liverpool are very fortunate to have one such player in Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard was spotted by Liverpool’s scouts playing for Whiston Juniors at 9 years of age. After rising through the youth ranks at the club he signed his first professional contract 8 years later at the age of 17.
Within 12 months Gerrard had made his debut, and due to the catalogue of injuries suffered by then club captain Jamie Redknapp went on to make a further 12 appearances in the 98/99 season.
His early career was littered with injuries, most notably problems with his back & groin, but as he developed these injuries became less frequent, and Gerrard started the 99/00 season as a first team regular. His form throughout the season caught the eye of England manager Kevin Keegan, and in May 2000 Gerrard was handed his first cap.
As the seasons went by Gerrard was quickly becoming recognised as one of the best players in the world, a complete box to box midfielder who was equally comfortable steaming towards goal or diving into a challenge. This eagerness sometimes led to a lack of discipline, and in his early career he picked up quite a few cards. As he matured and learned to keep his head though this ceased to be a problem.
By the time the 03/04 season kicked off Gerrard had firmly established himself as a leader in the side, and Gerard Houllier handed him the captains armband. Houllier was to be replaced at the end of that season by Rafa Benitez, and the new manager agreed the midfield general was the best man to lead the club.
Gerrard’s first season under Benitez ended with possibly his finest hour in a Liverpool shirt. 3-0 down at halftime in the Champions League final against AC Milan, it was Gerrard’s 54th minute header that inspired a historic comeback.
The season that followed was probably Gerrard’s best in a red shirt, the midfielder scoring 23 goals in 53 games and winning the PFA Player of the Year award. He finished the season in style, scoring two goals en route to winning the FA Cup Final, including a spectacular last gasp strike from 35 yards to take the game to extra time.
After featuring in another Champions League Final in 2007 (a 2-1 defeat to AC Milan) the summer saw the arrival of striker Fernando Torres. Gerrard soon struck up an understanding with the Spaniard and the pair combined to devastating effect, Gerrard finishing the 07/08 season with 21 goals to his name.
In the last few seasons injuries have prevented fans seeing the best of Gerrard, but he has still made some telling contributions and is one of the first names on the teamsheet when fit to play.