Full of energy

The highlight of Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career came in Istanbul in 2005 when, as captain, he almost single-handedly lifted his side to UEFA Champions League glory, writes Andy Hampson.

The highlight of Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career came in Istanbul in 2005 when, as captain, he almost single-handedly lifted his side to UEFA Champions League glory, writes Andy Hampson.

Steven Gerrard was born in Whiston, Liverpool, and was raised in the Huyton area of the city. He grew up as a Liverpool supporter and his talent as a child brought him to the attention of the club from the age of eight.

He signed for them as a trainee and after impressing at the Academy, he was handed a first-team debut as a substitute against Blackburn in December 1998. Gerrard made his full debut against Celta Vigo in a UEFA Cup tie soon after and made an immediate impact.

His drive and seemingly limitless energy catapulted him to national prominence and strengthened the Liverpool midfield considerably. He was brought into the England team ahead of Euro 2000 and scored one of the team’s goals in their memorable 5-1 World Cup qualifying win in Germany the following year.

Gerrard starred in the Reds’ treble cup success (Carling, FA and UEFA Cups) of 2001 but the highlight of his Liverpool career came in Istanbul in 2005 when, as captain, he almost single-handedly lifted his side to UEFA Champions League glory.

Trailing 3-0 at half-time to European aristocrats AC Milan, Gerrard inspired the Reds to a memorable comeback, scoring the first of Liverpool’s goals in the penalty shoot-out win. Immediately after lifting Europe’s premier cup the midfielder was the subject of frenzied transfer speculation linking him with big spenders Chelsea. He was reportedly close to signing for the Londoners but resisted the Blues’ overtures at the eleventh hour and signed a four-year contract with his hometown club instead.

He went on to lead Liverpool to another cup success as they won the FA Cup in 2006 in what is now commonly known as the “Gerrard final”. Trailing at the Millennium Stadium to West Ham, Gerrard unleashed an unstoppable shot to draw Liverpool level in the 90th minute and take the match to extra-time and ultimately victory, again via penalties.

Gerrard left the FA Cup euphoria behind him that summer and headed for Germany to attempt to lift the World Cup with England. But the tournament ended in disappointment as England were once again knocked-out on penalties by Portugal in the quarterfinal stage.

David Beckham resigned from the captaincy following the World Cup defeat and Gerrard was made vice-captain under new skipper John Terry.

The 2006-07 season was a mixed one for the midfielder as Liverpool continued to falter in the Barclays English Premier League but reached the final of the UEFA Champions League for the second time in three seasons. Gerrard was unable to inspire the Reds to victory this time, however, as they lost 2-1 to AC Milan.

He committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new deal which will see him remain at Anfield until 2011.

Gerrard married his long-term girlfriend Alex Curran in a lavish ceremony in June 2007. They have two daughters, Lilly-Ella and Lexie. Gerrard has previously dated actress and model Jennifer Ellison.

Gerrard’s aggressive, non-stop style of play has landed him in trouble on a number of occasions, particularly for over-the-top tackles. Gary Naysmith, George Boateng, Graeme Le Saux and Nolberto Solano have all felt the full force of a Gerrard tackle gone wrong.

Injuries have also given Gerrard some strife. A groin problem in 2002 required surgery and forced him to pull out of the World Cup. A broken metatarsal also kept him out for two months early in the 2004-05 campaign.

Gerrard is known to drive a customised Mercedes.

Factfile Name: Steven Gerrard Position: Midfielder Club: Liverpool DOB: May 30, 1980 England caps: 57 England goals: 12 England debut: v Ukraine, May 2000 Moment to remember

There can be few things more satisfying than scoring a crucial goal in a final and Gerrard did just that with a long-range drive as Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium to win the Worthington Cup in 2003. For sheer exhilaration however, his decisive late goal in the FA Cup final against West Ham takes some beating. Liverpool were trailing 3-2 with just seconds to play when Gerrard unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside the area to beat West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

Moment to forget

England had looked like making the perfect start to their Euro 2004 campaign in Lisbon as they went into the final minute against France holding a 1-0 lead. Things went wrong however as Zinedine Zidane levelled with a superb free-kick and then with nerves jangling, Gerrard played David James into trouble with a poor back-pass. The goalkeeper could not make up the ground and conceded a penalty as Thierry Henry stole in. Zidane struck from the spot to hand France a dramatic 2-1 victory.

PA Sport