Football

Gerrard eyes one last hurrah before leaving Liverpool

That's what Steven Gerrard is hoping as his stay nears its end at Liverpool.

After spending his whole career at his hometown club, Gerrard admits it is going to be tough to leave but he hopes to go out on a high by leading Liverpool to cup glory.

A first league winner's medal looks beyond the former England captain with Liverpool currently 17 points adrift of leaders Chelsea and Manchester City, but the Reds are still involved in the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League.

And Gerrard will begin his farewell tour of English football tomorrow morning (Singapore time) when Liverpool visit fourth-tier AFC Wimbledon for an FA Cup third-round tie rich in historical significance.

Recalling as it does the 1988 final, when the original Wimbledon stunned league champions Liverpool 1-0, the match was a captivating fixture even before Gerrard's announcement on Friday that he will leave Anfield at the end of the season.

The FA Cup gave Gerrard one of his greatest triumphs when, in 2006, he inspired Liverpool to victory on penalties over West Ham United with a brace that included a sensational 30-metre equaliser in stoppage time.

Gerrard also lifted the trophy in 2001, when Liverpool came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1, and victory in May's final would go some way towards healing the pain of last season's spectacular collapse in the Premier League title race.

Gerrard will turn 35 on the day of the final and his midfield colleague Jordan Henderson believes lifting the FA Cup would be the perfect way for the club's inspirational captain to sign off.

"That'd be nice for him, because he deserves something like that for how good he's been over so many years for Liverpool," Henderson told the BBC.

"Hopefully, we can go on to win the cup. That's what we hope to achieve, and it would be brilliant for us as a team and for him personally to get something in his last year."

Gerrard has been used sparingly by manager Brendan Rodgers over the opening months of the campaign and may start on the bench at Wimbledon's 4,800-capacity Kingsmeadow stadium in south-west London.

A place in the League Cup final is closer for Liverpool, who are scheduled to face Chelsea in a two-legged semi-final later this month, but Gerrard will not want a shock FA Cup exit to tarnish his swansong.

Said Gerrard: "There's still a bit to go and I'd love nothing better than to walk around Wembley or a big stadium at the end of the season with a trophy for them (the fans).

"We've still got a chance of finishing in the top four (in the league) and that's the most important thing for the club, for obvious reasons. But from a selfish point of view, it's always a trophy and it's always medals, for me."

Gerrard concedes he cannot anticipate exactly how he will feel as the final days tick down on his time at Liverpool but, after a glittering career that has seen him become arguably the club's greatest ever player, he is sure it will not be easy.

He hopes, though, that it will not be a final farewell, with the long-serving midfielder open to the possibility of returning to the club in some capacity in the future.

"The last couple of weeks will be probably how the last 24 hours have been - very tough. But I'm really proud of what I've done and, hopefully, I can write a few more chapters with the team from now to the end," he said.

"But the last game and the last couple of training sessions are going to be torture, because it's so tough to say 'goodbye'. But hopefully it's more of a 'see you soon' rather than a 'goodbye'."

About the chance of returning to Anfield, he added: "I'll only come back and serve the club if I feel as if I can help.

"If I sit down with the people who are running the club at that time and they see a role for me where I can help the team or help young kids to become players, of course I will consider it."

For now, he'll continue to give everything he's got. And that begins tomorrow morning by beating Wimbledon and taking another step to hopefully winning another trophy for Liverpool. 
- Wire Services.


Every football player is the same - they want to play every minute of every game, and Steven is no different. He understands where it’s at and the number of games we’ve been playing, and that there might be times that he has to come out of the team.

- Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

'I wish I met Rodgers at the age of 24'

1 What goes through your mind when making a huge decision like that?

I always have to put my family first - and then I also think about myself and the club as one, really. I had to make a tough decision about what's best for all concerned.

The reality is I am going to be 35 in the summer. I've been here for a long time, I've been coming to this training ground since I was eight years old.

I always knew it was going to end one day and that it was going to be an emotional decision. That decision is here.

2 Was it a harsh realisation, or did you know that was coming?

I had an idea it was going to come at some time - I'm a human, not a robot. I'm not 24. I wish I was 24, I wish I'd met Brendan (Rodgers) when I was 24 because I think I'd be sitting here talking about a lot of titles that we would have won together.

The reality is, Brendan came to this club when I was 32 years of age and it's a shame that relationship didn't start 10 years ago.

I had an idea the conversation (that he won't be first-choice) was going to come at some time, but it was a painful conversation to have and that was the key moment - along with other things over the last six to 12 months, but that was the conversation.

That was the key one.

3 You had to tell your teammates as well, a group of men who look up to you so much. What was their reaction?

I think they were a bit shocked. It was as if the whole club had had some bad news.

But life goes on, it's normal and we carry on working hard for each other. They know what I think of them, but it was also nice for me to see what they think of me as well.

That was touching. But we're all men and we've got work to do.

4 Have you read much of the reaction?

I can't at the moment. I'm replying to messages and stuff, but it's tough. I didn't realise it would be as big as this.

But I've got to move on. The important people here are the supporters, they are the key to any football club.

I'm lucky enough to play in front of the best ones in the world.

5 There's an important few months left - plenty to play for. What is the dream scenario?

I think, where I'm sitting at the moment, realistically, we've still got a chance of finishing in the top four and that's the most important thing for the club, for obvious reasons.

That would be a great achievement after the start we've made in the league. But, from a selfish point of view, it's always a trophy and it's always medals, for me. - www.liverpoolfc.com


At his peak, he was the best in the world. In 2004, I told Florentino (Perez) I wanted Gerrard to partner me in midfield for Madrid. I know the club tried twice, but he wouldn’t leave Liverpool. Not many players turn down Real Madrid, but I think that tells you a lot about the loyalty of the man.

- Former Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane