Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard’s Retirement

So, today’s the day. 24th November, 2016. Steven Gerrard, Captain Fantastic, retires from football.

Gerrard spent 17 years at Liverpool, making 710 appearances, scoring 186 goals and winning 9 trophies for the Reds. He ranks fourth in the table for most capped England players with 114 appearances.

The testimonies and career highlights have been all over social media, and we can do nothing but reminisce a fantastic career in football, as one of the greatest leaders on and off the field and one of the best, if not the best, midfielders of the last century retires from the game. 

No one will forget that Steven Gerrard FA Cup final against West Ham or his sizzling, “yaaa beauty!”  strike against Olympiakos in the Champions League or indeed his hattrick against Everton in 2012 or the famous comeback in the Champions League final which resulted in the young skipper lifting old big ears for Liverpool’s fifth European Cup success.

There are many phenomenal moments in Stevie’s career, but also some rather car crash episodes. The slip against Chelsea is his most recent catastrophic error which cost Liverpool a long awaited premier league trophy. His 47 second red card also springs to mind in the epilogue of Stevie’s worst moments. But there can be no doubt that the positives far out way the negatives.

A wonderful player and ‘the last of the dinosaurs’ with a style of football embodied by Wimbledon’s crazy gang, it is with a heavy heart that we must say goodbye to Stevie G.

Here is the first installment of our five-part special which pays homage to one of the best midfielders we have ever seen. A player who symbolized the old blood and thunder style of the British game, someone who time and time again came up with the goods. An iconic figure of the 21st Century, and one of the most decorated sports men who ever lived.

Premier League great, and Liverpool Legend….Steven Gerrard.

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 The Beginning

Steven Gerrard started his Liverpool career against Blackburn Rovers, on 29th November 1998, replacing Norwegian right back Vegard Heggem.          (Liverpool won 2 – 0 on the day)

French man, Gerard Houllier would be the one to give Stevie G his chance. Gerrard once described Houllier as “one of the nicest men in football”. He has cited the French man as a source of calmness on the day of his debut.

Gerrard didn’t see much action that day however he has since recalled a “safe touch” on the ball, a pass or two and a terrible cross that almost “sailed over the Centenary Stand”. Paul Ince was least delighted with Gerrard after this incident. gerrard-ince210104

In the early stages of his career, the young Gerrard was given the tough task of filling in for injured skipper Jamie Redknapp. In his first season as a red, Gerrard made 13 appearances but has admitted that he struggled out of position and was plagued by nerves.

A special moment for Gerrard was his first Liverpool goal. On 5th December 1999 against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield Stevie went on a mazy run, he takes it past two then slots the ball into the bottom left hand corner before running to the fans and sliding on his stomach to celebrate what would be the first of many. Liverpool eventually won the game 4 – 1.

At this time, Gerrard had to watch on as the rivalry between Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) grew in intensity. Both teams fought tenaciously over the league, but it was Manchester United who enjoyed most of the spoils. In Gerrard’s debut season, he watched on as the Red Devils completed a unique treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, in that famous victory in Barcelona.

Gerard had to bide his time, and his first trophy came in February 2001 beating Birmingham City 5 – 4 on penalties, after a 1 – 1 draw, in the Football League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A couple of months later in May, Gerrard would again lift silverware. This time he lifted the FA Cup after beating Arsenal 2 – 1 over the 90 minutes. Again, the stage of Gerrard’s silverware success was the Millennium Stadium in Wales. Michael Owen, a great friend of Gerrard’s, was awarded man of the match after his 2 goals in the last 10 minutes of the match sealed the deal, and brought the trophy back to Anfield. Four days after lifting the FA Cup, Gerrard would play in his first European Final….but we’ll get to that a bit later.

The early stages were bitter sweet for Gerrard. He had very few starts, relatively few appearances and a Merseyside derby to forget however there were glimmers of hope and his silverware success offered a glimpse of what was to come.

END OF PART ONE.

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THE GREAT ESCAPE: Champions League Preview

Olympiakos v Arsenal, Wednesday 9th December (7.45pm KO)

 

Arsenal require a win against the Greek outfit this evening to progress through to the last 16 of the Champions League knock out stages.

 

Last night Manchester United crashed out of Europe’s elite football competition after a 3 – 2 away defeat to VfLWolfsburg. This sent shockwaves around Britain. How could a club of this stature be prematurely KO’d from the Champions League, a competition they won merely 7 years ago?

 

Will the Gunners suffer the same fate?

 

Arsenal can only qualify for the last 16 as Group F runners-up if they better Olympiakos 3-2 win at the Emirates.

 

A 1-0 or 2-1 win will not be enough. The Gunners require 3-2 or a higher score line to give them a better head-to-head record than their Greek rivals in the group.

 

With this score line, Arsenal would then finish above Olympiakos on overall goal difference.

 

The Stats

  • In Greece, Arsenal have drawn one and lost four of their last five games

 

  • The Gunners have won seven and lost four of their last 13 European away fixtures

 

  • Olympiakos are aiming to progress to the knock out stages of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons.

 

  • Olympiakos are currently unbeaten in six home Champions League ties against English opposition; winning five of those games

 

YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH!!

 

There have been many great escapes in Champions League folklore, from which Arsenal can draw strength.

 

Here are some of the best.

 

FC PORTO 2003/2004

 

FC Porto after being crowned UEFA Cup winners in season 2002/2003 began their attack on the UEFA Champions League under the leadership of a young, Jose Mourinho.

 

The Portuguese side did not get off to a good start in their first group game against Partizan. Porto drew one all with the Serbians in their away fixture. There home leg against Real Madrid seen Jose Mourinho’s side hammered 3 – 1. All seemed lost, until the young Mourinho wielded his magic and defeated French side, Marseille in a double header (3 – 2 away then 1 – 0 at home). Porto would later go on to win 2 – 1 at home against Partizan and draw with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

After the home defeat to Real Madrid left the Portugese side one point from two games all seemed lost. But eventually, Porto stormed through the competition taking a staggering 10 points from a possible 12.

 

Porto went on to reach the final in Germany, and were crowned the Champions of Europe defeating Monaco 3 – 0.

 

LIVERPOOL 2004/2005

 

In their opening group match Liverpool comfortably won 2 – 0 against Monaco. The Reds struggled to pick up points in Greece however, and Olympiakos finished them off with a 1 – 0 win. Liverpool again struggled to make the grade, and drew 0 – 0 at Anfield against Deportivo La Coruna. That meant Liverpool had only taken four points in three games.

 

In the return leg against Deportivo away, Liverpool won 1 – 0. However defeat at Monaco meant that Liverpool required a victory by two clear goals against Olympiakos (sound familiar?).

 

Liverpool initially went behind after a well worked Rivaldo free kick. This set piece set the stage for one of the most dramatic comebacks in Liverpool’s and Champions League history.

 

Liverpool scored two minutes after the game restarted through Florent Sinama-Pongolle. The second goal came from Neil Mellor who scored in the 81st minute. The Reds needed a goal, and who better to pop up and deliver it than Captain Fantastic himself – Steven George Gerrard.

 

25 yards out, dying minutes of the game, in front of the Kop and boom – GOAL!!

 

3 – 1 Liverpool.

 

Of course, if you know your history, the Reds later went on to produce arguably the greatest Champions League final ever. Does anyone remember the certain heroics of one Jerzy Dudek? Simply unforgettable.

 

WERDER BREMEN 2005/2006

 

The German side collected merely four points from five games during their Champions League campaign. Going into their final fixture against Greek side Panathinaikos they needed a victory, of four or more goals and Barcelona to beat Italian side Udinese. To summarise, they needed a miracle. And by God, did they get one.

 

The Germans battered Panathinaikos 5 – 1, they has done their bit. Barcelona however left it late to seal a victory over Udinese, scoring twice in the final 5 minutes of the match.

 

Bremen would later be knocked out by Juventus in the last 16 but they gave us a hell of moment to remember.

 

OLMPIAKOS V ARSENAL 2015/2016

 

Will there be another great escape?

 

Arsenal awaits their fate this evening. If they do drop out of the competition it will be the first time in 16 consecutive seasons.

 

The Gunners will have to progress without star striker Alexi Sanchez and midfielder Santi Carzola. Arsenal did secure a comfortable 3 – 1 at home against Sunderland at the weekend taking the London side to 2nd place in the Premier League. They will have to build on that confidence and their success in domestic competition to give them any sort of chance of completing the great escape.

 

“Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.

The Future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera!”