How quickly people forget when it comes to the career of Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard.
To vilify him after his red card against Manchester United last weekend, or worse still, call him a loser as some fans have done while referencing his costly slip in the defeat to Chelsea last season, is utterly preposterous.
Gerrard is a winner, and always will be. When looking at his 17-year career at Anfield, there are so many more highs than lows. True, he has never won the English Premier League, but where would the Reds be now if the midfielder hadn’t arrived on the scene?
Everyone talks about his Istanbul heroics when he inspired Liverpool’s comeback from 3-0 down in the final to AC Milan to lift the 2005 UEFA Champions League as the defining moment of his career.
But do you remember the crucial second goal he scored in the 2001 UEFA Cup final against Alaves, the two goals and successful penalty converted in the shoot-out to win the 2006 FA Cup final against West Ham United, or those nine goals he managed at Old Trafford during his career?
Even in that Champions League winning 2004-2005 season, it was Gerrard who made sure Liverpool got into the knockout stages as they came from behind to beat Olympiakos in their deciding final group game, with their captain scoring the decisive, late goal that allowed them to advance at the expense of the Greek side.
Gerrard’s glorious moments are almost too numerous to mention. He was named FWA Player of the Year in 2009 after netting a stunning 24 goals from midfield as he and a red-hot Fernando Torres took Rafa Benitez’s side to the brink of the title.
During that campaign six years ago, he was in his prime. So with Gerrard turning 35 in May, it could be argued that he’s gone on for one season too many. But after going so close to glory in 2014, who could blame him for throwing the dice one last time?
Twice, this one-club man almost moved to Chelsea. Had he taken up residence in West London instead of staying on Merseyside, Gerrard would almost certainly have more silverware to show, including a Premier League crown. Indeed, his former teammate Michael Owen was finally able to add that elusive trophy to his cabinet as a Manchester United player, yet ironically tarnished his legacy by becoming a perennial bench warmer, accused of lacking ambition.
Gerrard stuck with Liverpool through thick and thin, and should be commended for that. During the tough times, he’s put his hand up and accepted total blame for his mistakes. Even so, he’s rated number one on the LFC TV list of 100 Players Who Shook The Kop.
Gerrard’s automatic three-match ban means that he could only play another six games in a Liverpool shirt before moving to Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy. How difficult it will be for him to watch the Reds travel to Arsenal next Saturday. If they lose at the Emirates, Brendan Rodgers’ side could conceivably drop to seventh place with Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur just a point behind them.
But keep everything in perspective, including Gerrard’s precious legacy. He may not be the greatest player of his generation, but he’s certainly in the top 10, regardless of that stamp on Ander Herrera or the slip that allowed Demba Ba to score against Chelsea last season.
(Jason Dasey is Senior Editor of ESPN FC and the former host of SportsCenter India and Sportsline)
- Up to 35% off or more on sporting goods
- ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Merchandise