RAFAEL BENITEZ yesterday hailed Steven Gerrard’s contribution to Liverpool’s past and insists his captain can play another 200 games at the top level for the Anfield club.
Gerrard will become only the 13th Liverpool player to reach the 500 games tally for the club when he leads the team at Blackburn today.
At Ewood Park he will once again be without his front-line colleague Fernando Torres, who will still not be risked as he recovers from a groin problem despite having taken part in three first-team training sessions this week. So again it is predominantly down to Gerrard to continue the rescue act to salvage Liverpool’s erratic season and Benitez insists the England man can do it.
Benitez said: “When Stevie is on top form, Liverpool can beat anyone.”
He added: “To reach 500 games for one club is remarkable. He is certainly one of the very best players I have ever worked with.
“When I was at Real Madrid I worked with people like Raul and many other very good players who did very well in the first team.
“Like them, Stevie is known as a top-class player all around the world.’’
Gerrard famously said in his autobiography he craved the day perfectionist Benitez just said “well done” to him.
So for Benitez to talk of his midfield inspiration as potentially one of the best players of all time, is praise indeed. He said: “He is at a good age and is very professional. If we can keep him fit he can still play another 200 or more games for this club, hopefully at the same level he has shown for many years now.’’
Benitez added: “To play 500 games is a massive achievement for any player, especially at the same club.
“He has reached this stage by showing the same passion and commitment for many years. His loyalty to Liverpool is to be praised, few players do what he has done for his local club.
“Steven is a key player for us, the kind of player that can make a difference in a game.
“We have some important players but Stevie is one of those that, when he is playing well, the team can win any game. It doesn’t matter if the other players aren’t playing well, he can win a game for you with one special moment.’’
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