Steven Gerrard won the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup (x2) and League Cup (x3) during his 17 years in Liverpool’s first team. He also racked up 114 appearances for England in a 14-year international career, scoring 21 goals along the way. When a player retires, fans are sometimes guilty of hyping them up to be better than they really were. In Gerrard’s case, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
At his best, Gerrard was the standout central midfielder in world football. The Liverpool legend barely had any weaknesses in his game, making him the perfect all-round midfielder. He possessed the ability to do pretty much anything in the middle of the park, from passing and tackling to crossing and scoring goals.
Above all else, Gerrard’s most important quality was his mentality. Like Wayne Rooney, the 2005 Champions League winner had a never-give-in attitude whenever he stepped foot onto the pitch. It’s obvious when some footballers lose passion for the game and only play for the paycheck, but that desire to win at all costs never left Gerrard.
When was Steven Gerrard in his prime?
Steven Gerrard hit his prime as a footballer in the 2008-09 season. However, you could argue that his most influential campaign came in 2004-05 when he captained Liverpool to Champions League glory.
In 2008-09, Gerrard scored a career-best 24 goals in 44 games in all competitions. Liverpool finished second in the Premier League, four points behind Manchester United. Gerrard had the freedom to roam around the pitch in a central attacking midfield position, with Fernando Torres up front (when fit) and Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso behind him.
Gerrard’s prime years lasted a lot longer than most footballers. Looking back, it’s difficult to find a season when he wasn’t at his best. From 2000-01 to 2014-15, Gerrard was Liverpool’s talisman and one of the top players in the world. The fact that he featured in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year eight times tells you everything you need to know.
Steven Gerrard’s best England years
So many high-quality English players produced underwhelming performances for their country in the 2000s, including Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool man played the same position as Chelsea midfield maestro Frank Lampard at club level. This caused many selection headaches for England managers Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, who usually selected at least one player out of position to get them both in the team.
Gerrard’s best England performances came in 2008 and 2009 during Fabio Capello’s first two years in charge of the Three Lions. He played on the left of midfield, with Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard selected in the centre. The position change allowed Gerrard to cut inside from the left and link up with Wayne Rooney in attack. This tactic worked particularly well during England’s 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Unfortunately, the 2010 World Cup turned out to be a disaster. Gerrard scored in England’s 1-1 draw with the USA, but the tournament will always be remembered for Capello’s men crashing out to Germany 4-1 in the last 16. Four years later, Gerrard retired from international football after England’s group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup.