Saturday, May 21, 2011

Steven Gerrard

Full name: Steven George Gerrard
Date of birth: 30/05/1980

Early days

One of the most influential and talented players in world football, Steven Gerrard was born in Whiston, Merseyside, on the 30th May 1980. He was passionate about the game from an early age, playing for his local team Whiston Juniors whilst a young boy. Such was his talent that Liverpool scouts were eager for him to join them as a schoolboy and Gerrard accepted this invitation in 1987. However, he was not an instant success at the club, playing only 20 games between the ages of 14 and 16 due to issues with his physical development. Whilst playing for the Reds during this time, Gerrard flirted with various other clubs, including Manchester United. However, he decided to stay at Liverpool and signed his first professional contract with them in late 1997.

Gerrard's early Liverpool career

Steven Gerrard did not have to wait long for his debut appearance in a Liverpool shirt. Liverpool's fixture against Blackburn on the 29th November, 1998, saw him enter the field of play as a second-half substitute. Gerrard's first starting appearance for the club came in the UEFA Cup against Celta Vigo. During his debut season, Steven Gerrard played a total of 13 games for Liverpool.
The young player had a strange start to the 1999/2000 season. Manager Gerard Houllier made him a regular player in Liverpool's midfield and Gerrard started to forge a successful partnership with fellow central midfielder, Jamie Redknapp. He started the opening six games of the season and played well in all of them. Disappointingly, though, he was dropped to the bench for the local derby against Everton, one of the most important fixtures in any season for Liverpool. Gerrard made a late substitute appearance but failed to make a positive impression upon the match, as he was sent off in the last minute of the game following a foul on Kevin Campbell.
Gerrard recovered from this controversy and scored his first goal for the first team later that season in a victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Injury problems blighted much of the 1999/2000 season for him, with persistent back and groin injuries causing media speculation that Gerrard's career was doomed. However, he was treated successfully for both problems, which were attributed to an excessive growth spurt.
The following season saw Gerrard become a more dominant force in the Liverpool team, as he made a total of 50 first-team appearances. He scored 10 goals to help the Reds win the treble of the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup. Gerrard was instrumental in the UEFA Cup final victory against Alaves, scoring his first goal in a final. This success was recognised as he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Gerrard continued to improve as a player during the 2001/2002 season and, along with striker Michael Owen, became one of the players Liverpool relied upon heavily to win matches. The club finished second in the Premiership thanks to several important goals from Gerrard. The start of the following season was tough for Steven Gerrard, as he suffered an uncharacteristic poor run of form. This led to public condemnation from his manager and the media began to question his commitment to the club. However, Gerrard attributed his loss of form to the traumatic breakdown of his parents' marriage. The player realised that he could not continue to let personal matters affect his on-field performances and soon found his form again. In the latter part of the season, Gerrard's influence upon the team was extraordinary and a run of extremely impressive performances culminated in a League Cup final win over Manchester United, with Gerrard scoring the first goal.
The influence of Gerrard upon the Reds was recognised by Houllier at the start of the 2003/2004 season as he was made captain. Despite strong leadership from Gerrard, Liverpool suffered a disappointing season and failed to win a single trophy. Furthermore, speculation mounted surrounding a potential move away from Anfield for Gerrard. However, the Liverpool board appointed a new manager, Rafael Benitez, for the 2004/2005 season and this renewed optimism convinced Gerrard to stay at his boyhood club.

Champions League victory

The 2004/2005 season will not be remembered for Liverpool's league form, which was poor to say the least, with the team finishing more than 30 points behind the champions, Chelsea. Nor will it be remembered for the domestic cups, as Chelsea beat Liverpool in the Carling Cup final, with Gerrard scoring an own goal which caused the media to speculate that his future lay away from Anfield. Rather, the season will be remembered for Liverpool's successful Champions League campaign, which resulted in a historic night in Istanbul.
Liverpool's quest to win the Champions League did not start brightly, as they faltered in the group stages. They entered their final group game against Olympiakos, needing a 2-0 win to progress to the next stage of the competition. The game started badly and the Reds went into the half-time break 1-0 down. They needed to score 3 goals in the second-half and this seemed unlikely given recent injuries to Cisse and Owen. However, Liverpool scored 2 goals and went into the last 5 minutes of the match seeking one more. It was at this point that Gerrard scored one of his most important goals for the club, scoring a late and spectacular goal from outside the box. You can view this historic goal here.
This victory gave Liverpool the confidence to defeat Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea in the following rounds and set up an intriguing final against AC Milan. The nation had high hopes for British success in the competition and nerves affected the performance of Liverpool during the first half of the match, as they conceded three goals. At half-time the match looked over and a despondent Liverpool team traipsed off the pitch. However, some tactical changes by Benitez resulted in Gerrard adopting a more forward-thinking role and this led to instant success. Ten minutes after the start of the second-half, Gerrard scored a magnificent header and gave his side renewed hope. Liverpool scored a second goal shortly after and Gerrard won a penalty to give his side the opportunity to equalise. Liverpool took this opportunity and the game went to penalties. Following an inspired performance from Liverpool goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, Steven Gerrard became the second youngest captain to lift the European Cup.
Gerrard's performance throughout Liverpool's Champions League campaign earned him several nominations for awards and he was named as UEFA's Most Valuable Player for the season.

Recent Liverpool success

The 2005/2006 season saw Gerrard increase in stature even more. In a total of 53 games, he managed to score an impressive 23 goals. This magnificent achievement was recognised as Gerrard became PFA Player of the Year. Liverpool, inspired by their captain, won the FA Cup. In the FA Cup final, Gerrard scored what is considered to be the greatest ever FA Cup goal. You can view this goal here.
The following season, Liverpool were relatively unsuccessful on the domestic front. However, another successful Champions League run resulted in a repeat of the 2005 final against AC Milan. Unfortunately, AC Milan were victorious in this match, leaving Liverpool and Steven Gerrard to dwell upon a disappointing performance.

England

Gerrard made his international debut in May 2000 against Ukraine. He was picked for the Euro 2000 squad but made only one appearance throughout the tournament, coming on as a substitute for Michael Owen against Germany. Gerrard scored his first England goal against Germany in 2001, as England won 5-1. He was forced to miss the 2002 World Cup due to injury and Gerrard had to wait until Euro 2004 to make a real impression on the international scene. Despite making a costly mistake against France, which allowed Thierry Henry to win a penalty, Gerrard had a successful tournament and scored his first goal in a major tournament against Switzerland.
Gerrard made his first World Cup appearance at the 2006 tournament and scored two times in the group stages. This made him England's top scorer at the World Cup, after they crashed out in the quarter-final stages. The FA appointed Steve McClaren as the new England manager after the World Cup and he made Steven Gerrard vice-captain of the national side. Gerrard had the honour of captaining his country for the first time in a competitive match in October 2007.

Personal life and sponsorship deals

Steven Gerrard is married to Alex Curran, with whom he has two daughters. The couple's Lancashire house was recently burgled whilst he was away on duty for Liverpool in Marseilles. In 2006, the Queen included Gerrard in her New Years Honours List as he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to sport.
Gerrard has been an important marketing force for Adidas, appearing in television adverts and sporting their Predator football boots on the pitch.

Individual Honours

  • Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University: 2008
  • Awarded an MBE: 2007
  • England Fans’ Player of the Year: 2007
  • FIFPro World XI: 2007
  • PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2006
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2005
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2005, 2006, 2007
  • UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Player: 2005
  • Ballon d’Or Third Place: 2005
  • PFA Young Player of the Year: 2001
  • PFA Fans’ Player of the Year: 2001
  • PFA Team of the Year: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • FA Premier League Player of the Month: March 2001, March 2003, December 2004, April 2006

Player Statistics

Senior Club and National Team Statistics
Period Team Appearances (Goals)
1997-present Liverpool F.C. 445 (99)
2000-present England 68 (13)

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