From substitute right back to the icon who captained Liverpool in the most unforgettable match in club history.
It was the last time at Liverpool’s weekend match against Crystal Palace that Steven Gerrard was wearing the home team’s shirt at Anfield in a competitive game.
• Makes his debut at 18
• Becomes captain at 23
• Emerges as legend at 25
It was a particularly sad occasion to the Liverpool’s supporters, as Palace were able to overcome a one-goal deficit and win the match 3-1 in the second half. The Reds could argue that referee Jonathan Moss might have made some big mistakes, but it will stuck in the memory of the mobile betting audience, that Liverpool were unable to bid farewell to his icon in a successful match. However, his career was full of great moments, so let’s see the most remarkable ones!
Debut in 1998
He first played in Liverpool’s A team as a substitute, replacing Norwegian right back Vegard Heggem in the autumn of 1998 against Blackburn Rovers in a Premier League game. He was a defensive player in the first place, but after central midfielder Jamie Redknapp’s injury, he played several times in the middle of the pitch that season. He also played right winger and though he was nervous and far from his best back then, it was an early glimpse of things to come as he played virtually in every position in the following years of his career and he was able to show class all over the field.
Treble in 2001
Gerrard established himself as a starter in his second season, and he was a key member of Gerrard Houllier’s team next year that went all the way in the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup in the spring of 2001. The UEFA Cup victory came after an unforgettable final that Liverpool won 5-4 in extra time against Spanish sensation Alaves. Gerrard scored Liverpool’s second goal of the game after fifteen minutes.
Gerrard was elected as PFA Young Player of the Year and Liverpool also won the UEFA Super Cup and the Charity Shield at the start of next season, putting Bayern Munich and Manchester United aside. He scored his first international goal soon after with a brilliant long range shot against Oliver Kahn, as England defeated Germany 5-1 in Munich in a World Cup qualifier.
Captaincy in 2003
After Jamie Redknapp and his deputy, Robbie Fowler left Liverpool in 2002, Finnish centre back Sami Hyypia was named as team captain. He filled the post virtually on an interim base only though, as Houllier gave the armband to the 23-year-old Steven Gerrard next year. Houllier left the club at the end of the campaign however, and Gerrard was tempted by Chelsea. It seemed to Gerrard that the Merseyside club’s development stalled and he was thinking about moving to London. New Spanish coach Rafa Benitez persuaded him to stay however, and the call was justified a year later.
No one who bet on sports in the EU will ever forget the 2005 Champions League final. However, Liverpool scarcely made the knockout phase of that tournament as they had to beat Olympiacos by two goals in the last round of the group stage, and the Greeks took the lead in the first half with the goal of former Barelona ace Rivaldo. But Gerrard commanded his team in the second half that scored three with the last one, the decider coming from the captain himself.
Something similar was needed in the final in Istanbul, where AC Milan, arguably the best team of the world back then, was enjoying a 3-0 lead at half time. Maybe they’ve enjoyed it a bit too much. Anyways, the Reds, inspired by their unbelievable support from the terraces and Gerrard’s header coming after a cross from Norwegian left wing-back John Arne Riise, were able to equalize in a six-minute long timeframe.
Milan was shocked, the world was shocked, but the Italians recovered with time, and Liverpool had a lot of work to do before the final whistle in the second half of extra time was blown. However, Gerrard’s display stood as an example for fellow Scouser Jamie Carragher and Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who both performed brilliant blocks as Milan was desperately looking for a winner. The latter saved the penalties of Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the shootout and Liverpool captured they fifth European Cup.
Clearly, the Miracle of Istanbul was the highlight of Steven Gerrard’s career, after he received the Man of the Match award and was named as the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. However, in the following ten years with Liverpool he was able to develop further as a player, and stunning many players of online sportsbooks in the UK, he showed that he is capable of acting as a key member of the team playing in completely different roles.