I've lived my dreams: Steven Gerrard
A few days after announcing his departure from boyhood club Liverpool, Steven Gerrard insisted he will remain a life-long Red, “I’ll be a Liverpool fan to the day I die. I’ve lived my dreams."
In an extensive interview with the ECHO, Gerrard has laid to rest rumours that he is upset over Liverpool’s attempts to retain his services beyond the term of his current contract.
Gerrard said, “It’s been an emotional few days for my family and myself since I made the announcement and I think it’s been the same for a lot of the supporters.
“It’s been difficult but I needed to snap out of it quickly because there are important games to be played. There is still a lot to be achieved this season.
“It was around a week before that I made my mind up.
“I’d done a lot of thinking and a lot of analysing. I wanted Brendan to be the first to know. I thought about the team and when would be the best time to announce it.
“After I told him we decided to sit tight until after the Leicester game on New Year’s Day. I didn’t want to wait too long.
“I knew that once January arrived and I was free to talk to foreign clubs the speculation would increase. The manager would have been facing questions about my future every few days and I didn’t think that was fair.”
“I’ve never wanted to be a squad player”
Gerrard clarified that it was the conversation with Brendan Rodgers a month earlier which proved crucial in his decision to depart. In that conversation, Rodgers informed the Liverpool skipper that he would no longer be an automatic selection.
“I’ve got to be honest, that chat with Brendan came earlier than I was expecting,” he said.
“It was about a month before that he first mentioned to me about managing my game time. We had another chat on the subject recently – 10 days to two weeks ago.
“It was tough but I understood. It’s been very amicable. Everyone knows how much I rate Brendan. Our relationship is very good.
“There hasn’t been a cross word between us. Brendan has been fantastic for me. My only regret is that I didn’t get to work with him at a younger age.
“There is no finger pointing from me towards the manager or anyone else at the club."
“From a professional point of view, everyone knows what I’m like and what I want.
“Since I was 16, 17 years of age, the moment I come into work on a Monday morning my preparations begin to play 90 minutes the following weekend.
“That’s the buzz. I’ve always worked hard all week to prepare and make sure my performance is right, come the weekend.
“When it gets to the stage where you don’t know if you’re going to be starting or not it becomes different.
“I’ve never wanted to be a squad player. If I was missing games now, I’d be sitting out even more next season. I knew it would get worse and worse as time went on.”
“Not knowing my squad role, I would’ve signed the contract in the summer”
Gerrard admits if Liverpool had offered him a new contract last summer he would have put pen to paper as at that stage he didn’t know his role would soon be reduced.
He had just ended his 114-cap England career to extend his club career. Instead it was November before there was an extension on the table.
“Yes, if a contract had been put in front of me in pre-season I would have signed it,” he said.
“I’d just retired from England to concentrate all my efforts on Liverpool. I didn’t want my club games to be tailored.
“My injury record had been fantastic for the past two and a half years and I had a great season from a personal point of view last season.
“It’s all ifs, buts and hindsight now. That period between the summer and the end of November gave me thinking time.
“There’s no blame and I’m not angry about it. There are other people in the squad and the club had other things to worry about.
“Liverpool Football Club have been unbelievable for me since I was eight years old. This club has helped me fulfil my dreams over and over again.
“The memories and experiences I’ve had over the past 26 years I wouldn’t swap for anything in the world.
“I’m a very lucky boy and I am also proud of what I’ve given back – the sacrifices, the dedication and the loyalty.
“I enjoy a very strong relationship with Liverpool Football Club and I don’t see that coming to an end. I hope to serve the club again one day.”
“I’m the kind of guy – if things aren’t going well, I’d rather stay and help”
Gerrard said that he is not one to run away from trouble and would rather stay and help put things right if they are not going well.
“It’s got nothing to do with how results have been,” he said.
“That’s not the type I am. If things aren’t going so well, I’d rather stay and help to put things right. I think I’ve shown that over the years.
“It simply came down to the fact that the idea of becoming a squad player didn’t excite me or motivate me.
“People can have their own opinion on that. But it would have been too difficult for me having been used to starting every game.
“I didn’t want to become a bit-part player. Coming off the bench here and there.
“The buzz for me is playing, contributing and helping the team. When you don’t know if you’re going to be sat in the stands or on the bench it becomes a bit different.”
“It will be nice to try something different for me and my family”
Gerrard accepted that he can not be a ‘normal’ person living in Liverpool and a place where he isn’t idolized and recognized would be a welcome change.
“It’s not just on the pitch in football but what you do off it as well,” he said.
“I think it will be good for me to come out of the city for a little while.
“Liverpool is my home and I love the city. But it’s not easy being me at times.
“Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world because I’ve fulfilled my dreams. I’m not complaining about it but it’s one of the things I’ve gone over.
“Being a Liverpool player and living in the city, there are some cons that come with it.
“It can be difficult to come out of the house – to go to the coffee shop, go out for a meal, take the kids to the park or do the school run. The little things. That can be tough at times.
“Then there are the Steven Gerrard rumours – the bits and bobs you have to deal with.
“It will be nice to try something different – a new country, a new culture. To take the kids away so they can experience something new.
“It will be nice to be able to walk out the door without being recognised.”
It’s been a massive honour to be captain of Liverpool
“I’ve never seen that as a burden,” he added.
“There’s been huge pressure and responsibility on me but I’ve always loved and embraced that.
“It’s been a massive honour to be captain of this club for so long and it will be right to the end.
“I’ll be a Liverpool fan to the day I die. I’ve lived my dreams."
“Would never play against Liverpool”
Gerrard revealed that he had a lot of offers from all over the world, but wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t choose any team that could put him against Liverpool.
“I had a lot of offers – domestically, from Europe, Asia and America,” Gerrard said.
“When I decided the time was right to leave Liverpool, I knew straightaway I wouldn't ever sign for another domestic club or anyone in Europe.
“I never wanted to find myself in the situation where I was coming back to play against Liverpool. Even if I went somewhere else in Europe I'd be running that risk in terms of the European competitions.
“Also, I said to myself that if you want to play for a big team in Europe with a great coach then I may as well stay put because I had all that here already. That wouldn't have been the change I was looking for.
“The attraction of America was a different lifestyle, a different culture for myself and my family.”
“I can’t rule out a loan move back”
If Gerrard does move to Major League Soccer (MLS), he has a chance of coming back to Liverpool on loan just like Thierry Henry did with Arsenal and Frank Lampard with Manchester City. He said that he wouldn’t rule it out, but he hasn’t thought of it yet.
“I've not even thought about the possibility of a loan,” he added.
“I've not had that conversation with anyone. I can't rule it out, but I can't confirm it would happen either.
“The way the season works in the MLS there's a break around winter time.
“What I can say is that I'd love to be able to come back and train with the lads to keep my fitness levels up.
“Whether that could lead to playing for the club again I don't know. That wouldn't be my decision. You'd have to ask others that question.”