To leave or not to leave? That was the question for Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard, and one he has answered – to the despair of the Liverpool supporters.
The 34-year-old’s contract comes to an end at the end of this season, and from today he is allowed to sign a pre-contract with a club outside of England.
New York Red Bulls and New York City are heavily linked with the midfielder.
He’s leaving. But one thing that’ll never leave the club is his legendary status.
Firstly, the stats are incredible: 695 appearances for the club, 180 club goals (116 in the Premier League), 10 trophies won and 114 England caps.
Only Frank Lampard has scored more goals from midfield in the Premier League, and Gerrard is third behind Lampard and Dennis Bergkamp in the asissts chart.
Gerrard has given football fans numerous memorable moments: spectacular 30-yard drives, last-minute winners, world-class tackles and passes that are the envy of players and fans.
But to Liverpudlians, Gerrard means so much more. A symbol of not only a football club, but a city.
Speak to residents of the city, ask them to list one of the most famous sons of Merseyside and he’s sure to be named.
A man who is just as proud to be from Liverpool as Liverpool is proud to have him. A passionate and honest representative of the city, someone who eats and breathes football.
Liverpudlians see in Gerrard a piece of themselves. A man who’s one of their own and happy to tell the world.
He’s never let them down in victory and defeat, stuck with them when other lucrative and trophy-contesting clubs wanted him – and that loyalty will never be forgotten.
Arguably, the last player to come through the ranks of his local and boyhood club and commit for the best part of his playing life, Gerrard is adamant he’ll never play for a club that could play against his beloved Liverpool.
No confirmation of where he’ll be playing next season, but MLS in the States seems to be the favoured destination.
If he goes there, he’ll follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and Thierry Henry, and will be going head to head with another Premier League legend and former England teammate, Frank Lampard.
The MLS has been dubbed the “retirement home” for former elite football players. But the signings of quality players like Gerrard and Lampard can only raise the standard of the league and, eventually, of the US national team.
The debate now is about who is the greatest Liverpool player of all time. The consensus is that it’s a straight scrap between the current captain and adopted Scouser Kenny Dalglish.
The former Scottish international was the greatest player of his generation in English football, but played in a phenomenal team that included Ian Rush, Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen. He was part of a Liverpool side that was dominant before he arrived.
Steven Gerrard has played in many mediocre sides and has still dragged the club to FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League glory, with goals in numerous semifinals and finals.
Who knows what England would have achieved had previous managers built the so-called golden generation team around the Liverpool skipper.
But one thing’s for sure: he’ll be remembered for what he did win, rather than what he didn’t.