For­mer Liver­pool Ger­rard re­tires with man­age­rial as­pi­ra­tions

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Af­ter an il­lus­tri­ous play­ing ca­reer full of re­mark­able cup come­backs along­side jar­ring Premier League lows, Steven Ger­rard is done.

The 36-year-old Ger­rard, who won ev­ery ma­jor club hon­our with Liver­pool apart from the English ti­tle, said yes­ter­day that he was re­tir­ing from soc­cer af­ter an 18-year pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

“You are aware that time is com­ing to­wards the end, the body starts talk­ing to you,” the for­mer Eng­land cap­tain told Bri­tish broad­caster BT. “The pains and the aches get more reg­u­lar. The way you feel out there on the pitch changes.

“Over the last cou­ple of years I’ve felt my­self slow­ing down a lit­tle bit and I ba­si­cally can’t de­liver what I used to be able to de­liver and that be­comes a lit­tle frus­trat­ing as time goes on.”

Ger­rard was one of the best mid­field­ers of his era and won ad­mi­ra­tion for stay­ing loyal to his boy­hood club and re­sist­ing the riches of­fered by Premier League ri­vals.

He only left Liver­pool in 2015 af­ter no longer be­ing able to reach the for­mi­da­ble lev­els of his peak years and los­ing his place in the team. The fi­nal two sea­sons of his ca­reer were seen out with the Los An­ge­les Galaxy.

There were in­evitably frus­tra­tions dur­ing such a long ca­reer, so of­ten on in­ter­na­tional duty while cap­tain­ing Eng­land at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and the 2012 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship. Eng­land didn’t progress be­yond the first knock­out round in those three tour­na­ments as the team’s per­for­mances never matched the hype and ex­pec­ta­tion that Ger­rard sought to tem­per as a cool leader.

With Liver­pool, Ger­rard came ag­o­niz­ingly close in 2014 to fi­nally land­ing the one club prize that eluded him: The Premier League ti­tle. Adding to the an­guish, Ger­rard’s own slip against Chelsea con­trib­uted to a 2-0 loss that ended up cost­ing Liver­pool the ti­tle as Manchester City emerged vic­to­ri­ous.

“It drove me mad for a few nights, a few weeks,” Ger­rard said at the time. “It was a big mo­ment and went against me.”

But there were so many mo­ments that went Ger­rard’s way.

The big­gest of them all came in Is­tan­bul in the 2005 Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal. Trail­ing 3-0 at half­time against Mi­lan, Liver­pool was fac­ing hu­mil­i­a­tion un­til Ger­rard scored to be­gin a come­back that cul­mi­nated in the club’s fifth Euro­pean ti­tle — won on penalty kicks.

A year later in the FA Cup fi­nal, Liver­pool was trail­ing 3-2 head­ing into stop­page time un­til Ger­rard pounced with a lon­grange equal­izer. Just like in the Euro­pean fi­nal, the FA Cup was col­lected by win­ning a penalty shootout.

“I feel lucky to have ex­pe­ri­enced so many won­der­ful highlights over the course of my ca­reer,” Ger­rard said in a state­ment. “I am proud to have played over 700 games for Liver­pool, many of which as cap­tain, and to have played my part in help­ing the club to bring ma­jor hon­ors back to An­field, none more so than that fa­mous night in Is­tan­bul.”

Liver­pool’s scouts spot­ted Ger­rard’s tal­ent as an 8-year-old and he went on to score 186 goals in 710 first-team ap­pear­ances.

Ger­rard, who also made 114 ap­pear­ances for Eng­land, now has a de­ci­sion to make about his next job.

“I am ex­cited about the future and feel I still have a lot to of­fer the game, in what­ever ca­pac­ity that may be,” Ger­rard said. “I am cur­rently tak­ing my time to con­sider a num­ber of op­tions and will make an an­nounce­ment with re­gards to the next stage of my ca­reer very soon.”

Ger­rard was in talks about be­com­ing manager of third-tier club MK Dons last week but de­cided that va­cancy came a “bit too soon.”

“I def­i­nitely have dreams and as­pi­ra­tions of hav­ing a go at man­age­ment or as­sist­ing the manager and be­ing back in­volved in the dressing room,” Ger­rard said. “But I’ve got many, many years to do that.”

Steven Ger­rard (left) along­side with one of his for­mer man­agers Rafa Ben­itez af­ter win­ning the FA Cup fi­nal. The for­mer Liver­pool and Eng­land cap­tain, an­nounced his retirement from pro­fes­sional foot­ball yes­ter­day. Photo: AP

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