Captain says it was the ‘toughest decision of my life’
Liverpool talisman Steve Gerrard announced his decision to leave his boyhood club at the end of the season yesterday and finish his career in another country.
Gerrard turns 35 in May and will run out the rest of his contract, with a move to the United States looking like the most probable next step.
The Liverpool captain joined the club when he was eight years old and at times single-handedly lifted the side to glorious heights, most memorably the Champions League in 2005.
While Gerrard is calling time on his playing career at Anfield, he hopes to one day return, with former boss Gerard Houllier tipping him to lead the club from the dugout.
Gerrard said in a statement: “This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time.
“Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.
“I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool — that is something I could never contemplate.
“It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.”
Gerrard chose to announce his decision months in advance to prevent continued speculation in the media about where he would be playing his football next season — similar to close friend and former teammate Jamie Carragher.
He said: “I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.
“My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.”
But Carragher believes that Liverpool could have done more to convince Gerrard to finish his career with the club.
“From the club’s point of view, I am surprised,” the former Liverpool captain said.
“It was Stevie’s decision but could the club have maybe done a little bit more? Maybe spoken about a coaching role in the future to try to entice him to stay?
“You are not losing Steven Gerrard of 24 or 25 years of age. He’s not the same player at 34. No player is at that age, but I just think to lose that experience at the club, which he can pass on to the youngsters at the academy and players in the first team now…”