After 17 seasons, Liverpool’s long-serving captain and quite possibly the club’s greatest ever player, is set for his final match at Anfield. A final start. One final 90 minutes—or perhaps a final 89 before a late substitution to allow the fans an extended standing ovation. And, following that, a final lap around the Anfield pitch. It’s going to be an emotional time, for Steven Gerrard as much as anyone.
"It’s tough at the moment because time is running out and I’m going to miss it so much," said Gerrard, speaking to reporters at last night’s former Liverpool players’ season-ending gala where Simon Mignolet was awarded player of the season honours. "I’ve been coming to Liverpool since I was eight years old. Saturday is going to be the proper goodbye but there’s another game after that so I need to stay strong."
It’s been an up and down season for Liverpool and Gerrard, and calling it that is perhaps even being too generous. Goals against Chelsea and QPR in recent weeks will at least help to obscure earlier disappointments and allow Gerrard to leave with his head held high, but even then, there are some bad moments from earlier in the year that continue to bother Gerrard .
"Football is all about highs and lows," he admitted, reflecting on his final season at Anfield and its many dissapointments. "Since the turn of the year I had a hamstring injury and then there was that stupid tackle against Manchester United when I got sent off. I didn’t want to go out like that. I wanted to go out on a high. I’ll keep giving everything until the very end."
The season may be as good as over for the Reds, six points behind United in fourth and four ahead of Tottenham in sixth and five beyond of Southampton in seventh. Throw in the awarding of an extra Europa League spot for the Premier League’s fair play ranking, which Liverpool are in line to get even should they somehow tumble to seventh and Aston Villa win the FA Cup, and there’s really only pride still on the line.
Pride and, hopefully, another good moment or two for Steven Gerrard. He may have become a divisive figure as his legs have gone, and Liverpool at times have struggled to look past their ageing captain, but for his 17 years as a first team player and his standing as an all-time great he deserves a few final good moments to bow out with as he prepares for his final run around Anfield as a Liverpool player.