LONDON: Veteran captain Steven Gerrard has confirmed he will leave Liverpool, his only professional club, at the end of the season.
The midfielder, 35 in May, is out of contract in the summer but, despite having been offered a new deal, has decided the time is right to pursue a new challenge, probably in the United States.
Los Angeles Galaxy are just one Major League Soccer club reportedly interested, along with clubs in the Middle East.
Gerrard, who scored two penalties in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against Leicester yesterday, has been free to talk to foreign clubs since January 1.
He said: “This has been the toughest decision of my life, one both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time. I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool.
“My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.
“From now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.”
Captaincy and trophies
Gerrard joined Liverpool as an eight-year-old, made his first team debut in 1998 and became captain in 2003. Since then he has scored 180 goals in 695 appearances, leading the club to the Champions League title in 2005, scoring his side’s first goal as they came from three down to draw 3-3 against AC Milan and then win on penalties.
He has also won the UEFA Cup, two FA Cups, three League Cups, one Community Shield and two UEFA Super Cups.
Gerrard captained England at the World Cup finals in Brazil last summer and then retired from the national team. He scored 21 goals in 114 internationals between 2000 and 2014.
The role of Gerrard at Liverpool has come into question this question as manager Brendan Rodgers worked to build a new team relying less and less on the former England captain.
Rodgers, acknowledging Gerrard’s great service to the club, said: “It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool.
“This is an era where the word ‘legend’ is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn’t do him justice.”