The end of the road for Captain Fantastic - Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard may just have played the last game of his career as the Premier League legend’s team LA Galaxy crashed out of the MLS playoffs, losing 3-1 on penalties against Colorado Rapids in the conference semi-finals.
The ex-Liverpool captain was the only player who scored from the spot in the shootout as former English teammate Ashley Cole and Galaxy’s player of the season Giovanni Dos Santos missed their penalties. Gerrard went first in the shootout and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner, beyond the reach of Tim Howard, a man he had faced (and thwarted) several times before in the Premier League.
But that could very well have been the last kick of Stevie G’s career, as his Galaxy contract is up and his future as a player is uncertain, to say the least.
Gerrard spent two seasons in the States, making his debut for Los Angeles Galaxy last season. The veteran made 13 appearances and was involved in five goals, as the defending champions lost in the knockout rounds. He was involved in fourteen goals in 21 appearances this season, but ultimately the team fell short again.
Gerrard’s hunt for an elusive league title at Liverpool ended in tears as the iconic captain fell excruciatingly short of the trophy in the 13/14 season, and his bid for a league title with MLS’s most decorated team also ended in shatters.
The possible end of Gerrard’s career comes in a town with a population of a mere 50,000 people, in a stadium which seats less than 20,000 fans. This end of an era is a highly anti-climactic one for a player who means so much to millions around the globe.
Return to Liverpool as a player looking unlikely
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had this to say when asked about Gerrard in an interview, "Steven Gerrard is always so welcome at Liverpool FC.”
"You cannot imagine how welcome. So, absolutely no problem. But everything that we have already or will speak to each other stays in this talk.
“That is how I know Stevie and that is how I am. But nobody should worry that we have no space for Steven Gerrard.”
Although these words from the manager are encouraging, Klopp has shown he is not one to make decisions based on emotion – as is evident with his harsh treatment of Kop favourite Mamadou Sakho, whom he cited had “attitude issues”.
Anfield has rarely loved a player so much as it has loved Gerrard, but it is clear even to the most ardent of Stevie G supporters that the 36-year-old has nothing more left to offer as a player. Gone are the days when his tackles raised the voice of the Kop, and it has been a long, long time since he shook Anfield with that thunderous right foot of his.
Besides, Liverpool currently sit on top of the Premier League table (a feat they have achieved after 916 days) and the team that Klopp has assembled is fluid, fast moving and each player complements the other in some way. Gerrard no longer has the legs that he used to back in the day, and it is therefore highly improbable that he will ever make it back into the starting XI, or even the first team bench for that matter.
What could possibly happen is Stevie G re-joining the club in a different role – an assistant coach to the youth team, or maybe just starting off as a mentor in the academy are a few good options for the former English captain. Gerrard may no longer be the player he once was, but his aura, impact and the overall respect he commands in the city of Liverpool is second to none.
The Liverpudlian returning to the club in one of the aforementioned capacities would be beneficial both to his future career as a coach, and to the youngsters in the club who would profit in learning from the very best that the Liverpool academy has ever produced.
Liverpool’s most famous player of this century has yet to officially declare his plans for the future, and there is still a chance that he may feel that he has the legs to go on for a year or two in another league. At this point, however, it seems unlikely that he will continue. There are several options ahead for Gerrard even if he decides not to return to his hometown – many teams in the world would be happy to give a chance to one of the biggest legends of this generation.
If his latest kick of the ball as a professional player was indeed his last, then in a way, the end of his career was cruelly poetic – the only player to step up and succeed as his bid for a league title fell apart just before the finish line yet again.
Suffice to say that if we never see Steven Gerrard playing again, then football has just seen the end of one of the best players of this era, as well as one the most inspiring, yet one of the most painful careers in the history of the game.
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