Liverpool captain and talisman, Steven Gerrard hasdecided to call it quits on his playing career with the Reds after weeks andmonths of speculation about his future. Brendan Rodgers had left the optionsopen to his influential skipper and playmaker to extend his career yet furtherand potentially finish his playing days at the club he has played for all hislife. However, Gerrard has ruled that eventuality out and will walk away fromthe club at the end of the season, with an announcement that has shocked someof the current team such as his fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson.

Gerrard called the decision “the toughest” of his lifewhen interviewed after confirming his stance to the club, recognising that at34 years of age the time was right for both himself and his family to trypastures new, in much the same manner as Frank Lampard did with Chelsea at theend of last season. The Scouse legend was out of contract next summer (and willnow leave on a free transfer) and felt that he should make his position clearnow after twenty-five years’ service with the club, having joining them at thetender age of nine years old.

Almost 700 games later and with 180 goals for theclub, he deserves the accolades and recognition he has received down the years.

It seems likely that he will seek a new challengesomewhere else rather than hang his playing boots up straight away, with manysuggesting a move to the United States may be favoured. Fans on the Red side ofMerseyside will hope that he does not decide to follow Lampard and play foranother Premier League team, that could result in having to see him playagainst Liverpool somewhere down the line.

Gerrard for his part seems to haveruled that out as he could not see himself playing for anyone else in Englandbecause of that very possibility.

Although he has been a shining light during a period whereLiverpool have for the main part fallen away from challenging for the leaguetitle (the one major domestic honour to have eluded him during a tremendouscareer), he can look back on winning ten trophies during his time with the club.Maybe most famously was the Champions League victory over AC Milan in 2005,where he sparked a comeback the like of which will probably never be witnessedagain.

One also remembers his bullet of a shot that brought his team back fromthe dead in the FA Cup final against West Ham in 2006. Numerous Player of theYear awards also adorn his trophy and honours’ cabinet in addition to over onehundred caps for his country.

Fans will no doubt have many fond memories of his heroic performancesdown the years, from his first goal for the club against Sheffield Wednesday, anyof the nine goals he scored against arch rivals Manchester United, throughthose memorable European nights and the long range piledriving goals he scored,including THAT goal against Olympiakos that kept the Champions League dreamalive.

Although his England career did not quite scale the heights and standardshe consistently achieved for his club, Liverpool fans would probably place him rightup there with ‘King Kenny’ Dalglish and top goalscorer Ian Rush in their estimationof the true greats that have graced the famous Anfield turf, at least in thelast thirty years. They will also celebrate the fact that he turned down thepossibility of leaving the club at the peak of his powers when Chelsea amongothers came calling for his services, a decision that probably cost him furthersilverware but retained his admiration from fans of the Merseyside club.

Whatever he does next, Liverpool fans will no doubt wishhim well and hope he returns later in some capacity to either coach or evenmanage his beloved club, perhaps forming the ‘dream team’ with another devotedRed, Jamie Carragher. For now, he will continue in his efforts to moveLiverpool back up the table this season and to seek further progress in boththe Europa League and Capital One Cup, with a final piece of silverware afitting leaving present come the end of the season. “Walk on” Stevie G !

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