LONDON: Move over Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, Ian St John and Billy Liddell — the greatest player in the history of Liverpool is current club and England captain Steven Gerrard writes CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE.
That tribute was delivered by old friend and veteran team-mate Jamie Carragher during a Gala tribute organised in Gerrard’s honour by the English Football Writers’ Association at The Savoy in London.
The FWA selects one English football personality annually for recognition and Gerrard was one of the most unanimously-hailed choices in recent years.
Carragher – the club’s second-highest appearance maker with 721 games – said: “I think we are in the presence of the greatest player ever to play for Liverpool. People will say I am biased because we are good friends and because of the trophies we have won together, but it is a fair accolade to give him.
“There are guys like Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Ian Rush, all world-class players, but the difference was they were in a world-class team – and Stevie has not played in a world-class team. Stevie’s one strength is he has no weakness, he can run, tackle, pass and score goals. Football is a team game, but special players do special things at special times, and that is Steven Gerrard.”
Gerrard addressed a career-strewn string of issues, some happy, some sad, in his own address:
On spending the night with the European Cup trophy after the win in Istanbul:
Yes, it ended up in my room, the story was that party was going on and a few people we leaving and I saw the cup on it’s own so – there were a few scousers about so, some of which were related to me so I thought it would be best to take it with me.
On the Hillsborough tragedy:
It’s always emotional when you see the 96 names and see the flowers and candles – been a really emotional year for the club and the city but you see some light at the end of the tunnel and I’d like to thank all people up and down the country who’ve helped us get to that light at the end of the tunnel.
On current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers:
He’s a winner, the message has been loud and clear since he walked through the door he wants to win matches, he wants to be successful. He gave up a top job in a good situation at Swansea where he did fantastically well, and he had the bottle and the character to come and take this big job on.
Now the responsibility and pressure is shared between the likes of me and Jamie because it’s a tough club as well, all the demands and expectations are there on a daily basis. Our fans demand success and that we win and if you were looking for a young manager out there who could bring us that success I think you’d pick Brendan Rodgers.
On controversial team-mate Luis Suarez:
I think he’s world class, I think he’s got everything, I think we’re very lucky to have him in our team and our club. I’d ask all the people in this room to go easy on him, relax – we want him to stay for a long time.
If Liverpool are going to be a successful club Luis Suarez is going to be a big part of that. He’s a very quiet guy in the dressing room and around the place, he’s certainly a family man. I’m quite close to him I sit next to him in the dressing room and I speak to him a lot on the phone and text messages and stuff and everytime you ask him what he’s doing he’s always with his family.
Very quiet, very good professional but when he comes on a training pitch or a football pitch he turns into a fighter, he turns into a winner. When you’re trying to achieve these big prizes against the top teams, Luis Suarez is someone you want on your team.
I think he would deserve your accolade [of FWA Footballer of the Year]. I would even go as far to say he’s the best player I’ve ever played with and that’s some accolade I’ve played with some fantastic players, I’d be here all night naming them. Some of them have spoke tonight Gary McCallister, Jamie (Carragher), Torres, Rooney they’re all world class players and Luis Suarez is probably at the top of that pile.
On his near-transfer to Chelsea:
It was very close, but sitting here now I’ve certainly got no regrets and I’m absolutely delighted I made the decision to stay loyal to Liverpool. A lot of people talk about my loyalty to Liverpool but what never gets mentioned is Liverpool’s loyalty to me.
I’ve been there since I was eight years old and contracts kept coming – it’s a tribute night to myself tonight but its not always been easy. A football career is like a rollercoaster you go up and down and make mistakes on and off the pitch. But no matter what I’ve done I’ve always had fantastic people around me and still do today – I think Liverpool deserve a big thank you from myself for the loyalty they’ve shown me.
On England in the World Cup:
I don’t want to raise expectation because I’m sure it will go through the roof, if and when we get there. I don’t really want to talk about the World Cup until we actually get there, we’ve still got some really important games to play.
I’m confident we can achieve it and like I always say when going into a major tournament if you get a bit of luck going your way I think you can achieve the impossible.
I’ve done it before with Liverpool, Chelsea did it last year – not all the time does the best team win these competitions so I think if we can get there we can go there with confidence and belief.
We’ve got big players coming back from injury, Jack Wilshere who’s going to play a big part. I think you look at his game, his personality and his character he ticks all the boxes, he’s another top player coming into the side but not just him there’s a batch of young players coming through and there’s still a bit of time for those players to come through and improve and hopefully they peak just before the Brazil World Cup.
On Wayne Rooney:
He’s our number 10. I think Wayne would admit just like myself that he’s not always hit his high standards at major tournaments but knowing Wayne Rooney as a friend and a player the disappointment we all shared n the summer will be hurting Wayne very much and he’ll be looking to guide us to the World Cup and he’ll be looking to shine at the World Cup which is great for everyone.
On England manager Roy Hodgson:
He’s a fantastic manager to play for, I;’ve been lucky enough to play for him at Liverpool and for England and the players are all enjoying playing under him. It’s going in the right direction and we’re moving forward as a team so hopefully we can get there. There’s some tough games ahead like Montenegro in March, but we’re all in it together so we’re do our best to make it happen.
I think being a footballer we are lucky in that’s a top job a top profession, but I think it starts at home with your wife, your kids, your family, your close friends who are around you on a daily basis – when your coming in after those defeats or a major tournament on holiday when you don’t speak for a week they’re the ones who suffer so I think they deserve a special mention.
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