Steven Gerrard: Liverpool's Dark Knight
‘Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy’.
What is it to be a hero?. Human beings have always needed a hero to show them the path. We the ordinary have always depended and fallen back to someone who is ready to immerse himself into the unknown, while holding our hands through the journey. There are no superheroes in real life. But, to think of one in an imaginary world may be reasons for the birth of the Batmans and the Supermans. An escapist’s fleeing away from hard reality. When it takes to holding our hands and showing us the path, we need someone with flesh and blood and determination far greater than ourselves to be able to walk the walk, even in the darkest of times.
The tragic hero
A hero is a human and just like every single one of us, is flawed and with him lies his tragic world just as quoted by F.Scott Fitzgerald. The city of Liverpool and its football club had one such tragic hero for themselves, a certain Steven Gerrard.
A tragic hero is not just a victim of his situations, but one who steps into the arena with his own set of faults.The football world has been witness to Steven Gerrard’s free spirit when he started out. The youth prodigy and a name in the making, sprinting 70 yards to score or drilling in screamers from distance.
Each time the Kops saw hunger in those celebrations, the hunger to venture into the next level and they started building their hopes on this boy. Growing up has its own stack of responsibilities. Carrying your own weight and doing the same for the others around you does require its mettle and this man lived up to it.
It has been a long journey for the Whiston-born midfielder, since arriving at the scene and the wear and tear of it has left its mark everywhere. The youthful zeal from 17 years back to the battle hardened weary countenance of the present day, he has indeed heard all of the lark’s songs and withstood the gushing storms that often threatened to wash everything away.
But as they say, he lived another day to see the golden sky.He lived to strike the ball cleanly, when others were in dual minds over it and he ushered his team with his pace and skill to victories that would have remained elusive. Such has been his excellence.
Liverpool fans have been loyal to their club and country’s captain and he has paid them back with his goals, his love and foremost with his loyalty.They have seen days when Merseysiders Gerrard and Michael Owen took Anfield by storm and darker ones, when the latter left for Madrid. The Anfield faithful saw the brilliance of a Torres and a Suarez but with time, everyone departed.
The only common link and provider of goals for every one of them remained their talismanic skipper, the hero, who has always basked at the club’s success than personal warmth. So much so, that often the question has come creeping to mind. Is he bigger than even the club?.Time will tell.
‘Not all heroes get to live fairy-tales’
Perfection is a myth and no man is perfect. Every man , right from the Shakespearean era to the present day. Gerrard has been haunted down by his failures, tenants of the mind refusing to vacate the premises.A hero comes with his sins too. Newspaper headlines with a possible move to rivals Chelsea or a nightclub brawl for instance. A player, who has gained respect on and off the pitch, has had his moments on the wrong side.
His actions and playing style grew in confidence and slowly or maybe unknowingly traded into borderline arrogance.That epic rallying cry against Manchester City on camera for one didn’t go down well with the football Gods, wherever they watched the game from.We all know the punishment that followed.The look in those blank eyes as Demba Ba, rushed towards Mignolet was enough to feels and draining out from tightly closed fists. The Premier League ‘slipped’ from the city and from his grasp.Not all heroes get to live fairytales.
Steven Gerrard was perhaps born in a wrong generation of footballers. His immense talent of varying his game, according to changing situations, playing from deep in his later days and constantly running, winning tackles,churning out staggering 70 yard cross field passes from nowhere indicated an immaculate footballing brain. He has always been the one to carry his club and Nation on his shoulders, unfortunately, unaided in most of his ventures.
Here in lies the tragedy: The on-field general who lives, breathes and dies with his team every minute on the pitch and has had to do so with the wrong generation next to him. In the end it really weighed too much on him, being the Atlas for the national side , yet another World Cup disappointment and the eventual stepping down from national duty marked a sad end in the career of someone, who deserved national and European success.
But, what would hurt him more would be the painful truth of not being able to realize the dream of lifting the Premier league with the club he loved and the club that loved him back. When Liverpool needed a talisman, they found him. When England required someone, who could stand taller than the papparazzi and off field controversies, they found Gerrard, the gentleman, and worthy recepient of the armband.
It would be utterly wrong even for the most stringent of Gerrard critics to judge him by his league titles. He has been a trend-setter in his style of play, a leader even before he actually wore an armband and players like that don’t come around often. Since his shocking announcement of leaving Liverpool at the end of the current season, I would like to speculate on his feelings as he walks down that tunnel to that fabled pitch of Anfield leading his team out for one final time. Will the wear and tear be marked by one show of emotion?. The answer is not far away.
‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain’. Human beings are a strange species. Even the Liverpool fans know deep down in their hearts who is to blame( villain) for last season’s title mess. He has served the club with his whole career and indeed will leave a hero. But a similar one from Nolan struck me again. Liverpool’s decision of not offering Gerrard a contract extension looked like a collective decision
‘He is the hero we deserve, but not the one we need right now’.