25 Nov Gerrard leaving something in the tank
Steven Gerrard has called time on his illustrious playing days after realising he could no longer produce the moments of magic which defined his Liverpool and England career.
The 36-year-old is now set to embark on his next chapter in the game – most likely coaching – and he has been told by Reds manager Jurgen Klopp the “door is always open” to return to his former club in some capacity.
Gerrard’s playing career effectively ended when his contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy expired. He has already turned down one offer of management – from League One side MK Dons – but admits continuing his playing days was not an option.
“The body starts talking to you, the pains and the aches get more regular, the way you feel out there on the pitch changes,” he told BT Sport.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve felt myself slowing down a little bit.
“I basically can’t deliver what I used to be able to deliver and that becomes a little bit frustrating as time goes on.
“I’ve listened to people over the years. Important people in the game who I trust and have a lot of respect for, have said to me: ‘Always go with a tiny bit left, never overstay your welcome and play on too long where it becomes embarrassing’.
“I can feel that’s not too far away, so now’s the right time.”
Asked whether his future lay in coaching or punditry, he added: “I think I’d like to do a bit of both.
“In the future I definitely have dreams and aspirations of having a go at management or assisting the manager and being back involved in the dressing room but I’ve got many, many years to do that.”
The most obvious route for Gerrard to pursue his coaching ambitions, having already taken some of his badges, would be at Liverpool where he spent virtually all his 18-year career.
And while Klopp has reiterated his openness to Gerrard returning to Anfield, it is unlikely he would find himself fast-tracked into first-team duties with a role at the academy a more feasible option should he be interested.
“It is clear that one day in the future there will something to announce, that is pretty sure too, but until then there is nothing to say,” said Klopp when asked whether there had been any discussions about offering Gerrard a job.
“The door is always open for him. If he wants to make a different career to his former career then we want to help him.
“I will give him all the help I can if he wants, that is 100 per cent sure. There is nothing else to say – but maybe that is already too much.”
Gerrard made 710 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 186 goals, captaining them to their incredible comeback victory in the 2005 Champions League final where they recovered from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties.
He also won two FA Cups, three League Cups, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.
He also won 114 England caps, captaining his country at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and the game will miss him as much as he will miss it.
“I have had an incredible career and am thankful for each and every moment of my time at Liverpool, England and LA Galaxy.
“As a teenager I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the famous red shirt of Liverpool, and when I made my debut against Blackburn Rovers in November 1998 I could never have imagined what would then follow over the next 18 years.
“I am proud to have played over 700 games for Liverpool, many of which as captain, and to have played my part in helping the club to bring major honours back to Anfield, none more so than that famous night in Istanbul.
“At international level, I feel privileged to have won 114 England caps and to have had the honour of captaining my country. I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the England shirt.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some fantastic managers during my time at Anfield and would like to thank each and every one of them, as well as all of the backroom staff at the club throughout my time there for the fantastic support they showed me.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”