Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s new contract extension means he will almost certainly end his career at Anfield but the midfielder hopes to enjoy more success before that happens.
The England midfielder, who will be 32 in May, insists he is still “living the dream” at his boyhood club and is convinced the Reds are on the path to restoring former glories.
Gerrard, who has lifted the Champions League and FA Cup with Liverpool, has seen the club endure a difficult period recently as six years without a trophy also coincided with the dysfunctional ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Those Americans have since been replaced by others in the form of Fenway Sports Group who have provided the financial backing for manager Kenny Dalglish to start turning things around in the last 12 months.
Liverpool edged closer to ending that barren run without silverware by beating Manchester City 1-0 in last night’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium last night – courtesy of Gerrard’s penalty.
And while he accepts it will not all be plain sailing for the remainder of his contract he hopes there will be more ups than downs.
“This is the club I love and is the club I have supported since I was a young boy,” he said. “I am living the dream as the captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“I love coming to work every day and the experiences I have had since I was eight years of age and first signed for the club, I wouldn’t change them for the world.
“To extend that and to hopefully have some more good times in a red shirt is what I want. There will be more highs and lows, there’s no doubt about it as that’s part and parcel of being a football player at a top club.
“The important thing is that you react well to the lows and experience more of the highs. I’m confident moving forward that the club is going in the right direction.
“We’ve got a fantastic team, we’ve got the right owners in place and the right team behind our team, so I’m really confident we’ll have more good experiences in the future.”
A new contract caps a positive 24 hours for Gerrard in what has been a happy start to 2012.
He has scored in two of his three appearances in the new year and is well on his way to putting 2011 – when the end of one season and the start of another were disrupted by a groin operation before an ankle infection then sidelined him for two months – behind him.
“It’s a very proud day for myself and my family,” the midfielder told liverpoolfc.tv. “It comes on the back of a fantastic team performance last night when we got the result we were looking for.
“The contract extension coming the day after has been the icing on the cake so it has been a perfect 24 hours.”
While Gerrard expects to have several years remaining playing at the top level plans have already been put in place for him to continue being an influence off the pitch in an ambassadorial role when he eventually retires.
“It’s really flattering for me that the club have offered me the chance to stay when I eventually hang my boots up,” he said.
“Hopefully that will be in many years to come because I want to play for as long as I can.
“I’ll know myself when it’s time to hang my boots up and then hopefully I can stay involved with the club and set the right example for youngsters coming through.”
Dalglish paid tribute to Gerrard’s loyalty.
“In this day and age there’s not many people who go through their football career and represent just one club, especially people with quality like Steven,” he said.
“If you’re happy where you’re playing, you’re enjoying what you’re doing and you enjoy the football club I don’t see any reason to move, and it’s fantastic for us that he hasn’t.”
Director of football Damien Comolli hailed Gerrard as a person not just a player.
“The way he puts the team first and the club first over his interests is absolutely tremendous,” said the Frenchman.
“He’s a fantasy professional and it’s just great to have someone like this at the club. He’s a leader, he’s charismatic, he’s a top player and he’s a team player. There’s not much more you can ask for from an individual.”