Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will leave this summer with his reputation secured as the best player in the club’s history but he admits that will count for nothing if he wants to return in an official capacity.
The 34-year-old plays at Anfield for the final time on today before his move to Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer but questions have already been asked about when he will be back.
There is the potential for him to return on loan during Major League Soccer’s close-season but more likely is a role on the coaching staff once his playing days are over.
He has already had conversations with chairman Tom Werner and manager Brendan Rodgers about his longer-term thinking but Gerrard, in keeping with the attitude he has had throughout his playing career, is only concerned with being able to make a difference.
“I’ve certainly got ambitions to stay in the game, I’m currently taking my Uefa coaching badges and trying to progress up that ladder,” he said. “But I think to take a position or role at this football club first of all you have to be good enough.
“You never take a role here on reputation or name; the demands and the expectations at this football club are so high I think you’d be very naive and stupid to take a role just because you’re Steven Gerrard or because you’ve had a good career on the pitch.
“I think in a couple of years’ time, when I’ve come out of the city for a bit and reflected, if there’s a role on offer that I feel I can contribute in and I’m good enough for then I’ll certainly consider it.
“I’ve been coming to this club since I’ve been eight years of age and I do feel as if I can contribute in some role in the future.”
Gerrard has worked under a host of managers during his 17-year professional career and said he would hope to have learned something from all of them if the time came to move into coaching himself.
“I’ve been very lucky to work with some fantastic managers over the years. With Brendan I’ve enjoyed the last three years with him and I almost wish I met him a lot earlier, when I was in the peak of my playing days,” he added.
“Getting to play under Kenny Dalglish, someone who I watched many tapes of and is my dad’s hero, was a wonderful experience as well.
“Roy Hodgson’s time didn’t work out here but I’ve got a good relationship with him, more so with England of course.
“Rafa Benitez, who we shared Istanbul with, tactically improved me so much.
“I owe an awful lot to Gerard Houllier. He was almost like a father figure.
“He gave me the captaincy at 23, which was a very bold thing to do at a club this size.
“It’s difficult to pick one, or pick who I like the most, who I thought was the best, but as a whole I’ve been so lucky to work with so many.”
Rodgers has left the door open for Gerrard to return but admits he does not know whether that will be in a playing capacity or in an off-field capacity.
“I haven’t spoken about (a loan from Galaxy). It is something we will see how it pans out,” Rodgers said.
“Steven has always made it clear, whatever capacity he will feel he can help the club, it is something he will look to do and if that is in a player perspective it is something we can look at another time.
“If coaching is a route he wants to go down when he comes back from America it is something we will discuss in more detail.”
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew was the West Ham boss when Gerrard’s last-gasp long-range strike denied the Hammers FA Cup glory in the 2006 final.
Liverpool salvaged a 3-3 draw at the death and went on to lift the cup on penalties, and Pardew still recalls Gerrard offering words of consolation before launching the celebrations.
“I heard he said his best goal was the cup final goal against West Ham, for the equaliser,” said Pardew.
“Nigel Reo-Coker just dropped off him at the death, and Steven smashed it into the bottom corner.
“He’s done that consistently throughout his career, come up with an inspirational moment for Liverpool, and that’s why he’s loved.
“He came up and consoled me after the cup final rather than celebrate, so that just shows the measure of the man.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved