Steven Gerrard confirms he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has officially confirmed that he will leave Liverpool at the end of the current season. The midfielder will be out of contract at the club after this season and despite being awarded a new contract, he has decided to pursue a fresh challenge.
The 34-year-old, who announced his retirement from international football after a disappointing World Cup campaign, is immediately available to have talks with foreign clubs.
Liverpool confirmed the news on their Twitter handle.
The club further added that Gerrard hasn't announced his retirement from club football, and will carry on playing at a country outside England.
“Gerrard will not retire from professional football at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. No decision on his new club has been made yet, but he will continue his career outside the United Kingdom and at a side that will not bring him into direct competition with Liverpool,” a statement released by the club said.
Toughest decision of my life: Gerrard
Terming this as the toughest decision of his life, Gerrard said that he is announcing this decision now to avoid any speculation about his future and added that leaving the club was in the best interests of everyone.
“This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time. I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.”
“Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.
“I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool - that is something I could never contemplate. My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.”
“I can’t thank Brendan, the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they’ve handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my team-mates and all the staff for their help and continued support.”
“It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.
“One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.
“My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world - the supporters.
“It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high,” Gerrard concluded.
A thorough professional who helped me a lot early on at Anfield: Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said that he will always be grateful to Gerrard for supporting him when he first arrived at Anfield and it is very difficult for him to put in words the importance of Gerrard at the club.
“It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool.This is an era where the word ‘legend’ is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn’t do him justice. From a personal point of view I will always have gratitude for the support he gave me, when I arrived here as manager.”
“Steven came to see me and promised he would be 100 per cent behind me and do everything he could to help as we looked to introduce new ideas and a new way of working. He wasn’t just true to his word, he vastly exceeded it,” Rodgers said.
He also praised Gerrard’s leadership qualities and said that he always put the club’s interests ahead of his own.
“As a leader and as a man, he is probably incomparable to anyone I have ever worked with. He takes professionalism to a new level and the dedication he has to his work is an example to everyone in the game. He is also someone who has always put the club and team ahead of himself and I think that will ultimately be his legacy,” he added.
“People better placed than me to judge have said Steven is Liverpool’s greatest ever player; when you look at the company he is in, that is some statement. We of course will miss him, both on the field of play and in his capacity as club captain, but his influence will live on and we wish him nothing but joy and success wherever he chooses to go next.
“Until that moment arrives I will continue to enjoy working with Steven Gerrard the man and Steven Gerrard the player, one of the greatest we have seen,” he said.
Gerrard has played 695 games for the Reds so far in his career, across all competitions, ever since making his debut in 1998. Gerrard’s former teammate at the club, Jamie Carragher expressed his sadness at the midfielder leaving Liverpool on his Twitter account.