Steven Gerrard was perhaps the most accomplished midfielder to ever grace the English game. He could play in the attacking midfield role, holding midfield position and on the wings and have the same impact for his side.
Gerrard scored 186 goals for Liverpool and 21 for England, but what made his goals twice its worth in gold was their timing.
The former Reds skipper time and again rescued his team and at times carried them all on his own. Whenever there was a need, Gerrard would step up to the plate. During his time at Anfield, Liverpool were by no means the force that they are today. Yet, the Reds would often punch above their weight especially in Cup competitions and in the Champions League. The Reds reached two finals between 2005 and 2007, winning once in Istanbul when Gerrard once again played a vital role.
Apart from netting crucial goals for the Reds, Gerrard had the knack of scoring some stunning goals. His long-range shooting was from the top drawer and they often left his opponents in the awe.
As the Liverpool legends turns 40, here’s a timeline of his incredible career through some of his finest and most important goals.
Liverpool vs Sheffield Wednesday (1999-00) - Gerrard’s first LFC goal
Gerrard was a relatively unknown quantity when he made his debut in 1998. In the following season, the youngster was used in central midfield, his preferred positions, and started showing signs of his quality. At Anfield in a game against Sheffield Wednesday, a young Gerrard picked up the ball in midfield and made a trademark darting run going past three defenders to score past the goalkeeper. Some way for Gerrard to announce himself.
Liverpool vs Manchester United (2000-01) - First of many against arch-rivals
Gerrard transformed from a promising youngster on the scene to an instant Kop hero. Against arch-rivals Manchester United, Gerrard typically launched an effrt from 30 yeards that sailed past the United goalkeeper as the Reds won 2-0. He had scored a few long rangers before but by doing it in a high-pressure game against United, he ensured his earlier efforts were no fluke.
Everton vs Liverpool (2001-02) - First Merseyside derby goal
Gerrard’s status as a Reds hero was cemented when he netted Liverpool’s equaliser in the Merseyside derby against Everton at goodison Park. Liverpool who had conceded an early goal stormed back to win 3-1. It was a remarkable strike as Gerrard found the top corner from an awkward angle.
Germany 1-5 England (2001-02) - First international goal
Just after his goal against Everton, Gerrard scored his first England goal in a tough game away to Germany. With the score tied at 1-1 and half-time approaching Gerrard snatched a crucial lead for the Three Lions with a brilliant half-volley from twenty-five yards. England went on to record a famous 5-1 win and Gerrard’s strike was definitely the pick of the lot.
Liverpool vs Manchester United (2003 League Cup final) - Leading from the front
Gerrard opened the scoring for Liverpool with a thunderous strike in a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the 2003 League Cup final. His fourth trophy with the club, but this time it was against united and Gerrard played a much central role. The goal, another long-ranger, was a cracking one.
Liverpool vs Charlton Athletic (2002-03) - Memorable late winner
A month after helping his team win the League Cup, Gerrard was on the scoresheet again. This time in the 90th minute of a Premier League game against Charlton Athletic at Anfield. With the score tied at 1-1, Gerrard won the ball on the left flank, twisted and turned to go past two defenders snd find the back of the net to hand the Reds a 2-1 victory.
Liverpool vs Olympiacos (2004-05 Champions League) - What a hit son, what a hit!
Gerrard, now the captain and heartbeat of Liverpool side under Rafa Benitez, having turned down a move to Chelsea in the summer was fighting to prevent the Reds from exiting the Champions League at the group stage. Needing a goal to qualify, Gerrard smashed an outrageous 30-yard outfoot volley against Olympiacos to take Liverpool through to the knockout stage. “Oh, you beauty! What a hit son, what a hit!” These words of Andy gray describing the goal became as immortal as the goal. The Reds eventually went on to win the trophy, their fifth title.
Liverpool vs AC Milan (2005 Champions League final) - The goal that triggered a miracle
Not his best goal, but perhaps his most crucial. Trailing a star-studded Milan side 3-0 at break, no one gave Liverpool a chance in the second half. But Gerrard, scored within four minutes of the restart to restore Liverpool’s hopes. A difficult header that he managed to steer clear of Dida and just inside the post. The rest as they say is history!
Liverpool vs Middlesborough (2004-05) - Perfect technique
Another half-volley bit from quite a way out and a tricky angle for a right-footer. Having received the ball from left-back John Arne Riise, he controlled the sent a curling volley past the goalkeeper. Many consider this Gerrard’s best goal for the Reds. The technique there was indeed superb.
Liverpool vs West Ham (2006 FA Cup final) - The Gerrard game
A game called by many as the Gerrard final, for obvious reasons. Trailing 2-0 to West Ham in the cup final, Gerrard pulled a goal back for the Reds to give them hope. But the iconic moment was to come in stoppage time as Gerrard struck home a fierce long ranger that scorched the West Ham net and got the Reds back into the game at 2-2. Eventually, Liverpool won the FA Cup on penalties. Gerrard had made a habit of doing the incredible when it’s needed the most and that too in style.
Newcastle vs Liverpool (2006-07) - A scorching free-kick
Perhaps Gerrard’s best free-kick. With the goal 30 yards away, Gerrard blasted the lay-off into the top corner as the Newcastle custodian watch it helplessly fly past him. The ball was still rising as it bustled the net.
Marseille vs Liverpool (2008-09 Champions League) - A goal that defied physics
A Liverpool side perhaps the strongest under Benitez was eyeing another long European campaign. At the Stadt Velodrome, a tricky place for any European travellers, Gerrard scored a truly astonishing goal. Striking the ball from just outside the penalty area, the Reds’ skipper managed to loop the ball over the goalkeeper into the far post. Physicists are still finding an explanation of how it went in. That was Gerrard’s best season in red as he scored 24 goals, but Reds narrowly finished runners-up to Manchester United.
Manchester City vs Liverpool (2012-13) - He’s still got it
Much later in his career, Gerrard played in a much deeper position under Brendan Rogers. However, he remained a goal threat as Manchester City found out. Chesting the ball twenty-five yards from goal, he drilled a half-volley into the bottom corner. A trademark Stevie G strike after a long time. It gave the Reds a 2-1 lead at Etihad but City managed to eke out a draw from the game.
Manchester United vs Liverpool (2013-14) Almost perfect from the spot
With Reds chasing the Premier League title, Gerrard scored twice at Old Trafford from the spot to put Liverpool 2-0 up. He missed a golden chance to bag a hat-trick as he missed a penalty in the game. But the Reds won 3-0 to continue their march at the top of the table.
A bitter end to a great career
That game at Old Trafford was perhaps Gerrard’s final moment of joy in a Reds shirt as he had a rather painful end to his Liverpool career. He slipped in the build-up to Chelsea’s first goal in a 2-0 win at Anfield that ended Liverpool’s best chance of winning the league after 24 years.
Many, especially rival fans emphasise that moment as the one why the Reds lost the title, but the fact was that Liverpool under Rogers highly overachieved to find themselves in a title challenge and never really were good enough to win it.
As it was proved next season, Gerrard’s last at the club when the Reds finished outside the top four. His final game at Anfield was a 3-1 defeat by Crystal Palace, before Liverpool were humiliated 6-1 by Stoke City in Gerrard’s final game for the club.
Gerrard is considered the best player to have never won the Premier League, but his legacy is certainly defined by what he achieved and the manner of it rather that what eluded him.