Liverpool: Stars Salute Gerrard
Following Steven Gerrard's 600th appearance for Liverpool at the weekend a number of former players and current colleagues have expressed their admiration...
Sunday's 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Newcastle United was not only notable for the fantastic strike by Luis Suarez, which rescued a point for the Merseysiders, it was also the 600th first-team appearance in the career of Reds captain Steven Gerrard.
The 32-year-old became only the 10th player in the club's long and illustrious history to reach the landmark and in an era where one-club loyalty is increasingly rare the figure marks a monumental individual achievement.
Former Liverpool midfielder Gary McAllister, who played alongside Gerrard at Anfield between 2000-02 and presented him with a commemorative award before the game, told Liverpoolfc.com: "It was very clear to me, even in the first couple of weeks of arriving here, you could see he was a very special young player. Somebody that was growing into the position.
"He's not let anybody down and proved to be very influential for both club and country. He's had some very special moments for his beloved Liverpool.
"It really is a fantastic achievement [to reach 600 games]. Over the last 10/12 years he's proved to be such a wonderful servant and a great player as well.
"He's a proud captain and a very proud Liverpool player."
Fellow 600 club member, Ian Rush, commented to the Liverpool ECHO: "It is a fantastic achievement. It shows that he has real loyalty to this club but to have made 600 appearances is a big achievement in itself…
"He keeps himself really fit and really looks after himself. As you get older, this becomes even more important and Steven continues to do that.
"He still wants to play. He still wants to play for his country as well, which is important. Time will tell how many more years he can continue to play but hopefully there is plenty left in him. He can still make a difference to this team."
Gerrard, who has 151 goals for Liverpool and is also only one cap away from reaching 100 appearances for England, was also praised in the build-up to the game by current boss Brendan Rodgers.
"Players of that ilk come around very rarely," said the Northern Irishman during a pre-match press conference on Friday.
"I think he is a player that supporters should really make the most of the years he has left. He still has a number of years left, don't get me wrong, but this guy has quality.
"You saw him the other night when we were playing Swansea and the game was flat in the first half. He dons his Superman cape, comes on and changes the whole dynamic of the game.
"That is what great players do and this is one of the modern greats of the game."
As part of an interview on Gerrard, conducted by the official club website last week, team-mate Jamie Carragher put his long-time friend and colleague in the same bracket as legendary figures such as Kenny Dalglish.
The 34-year-old centre-back added: "He always wants to improve. He was in the England team at 20, 21, but he's still been getting better all the time. A lot of players can stand still, but he's kept moving forwards.
"Now he's captain of his country, he's won all the player of the year awards, he's won everything he can at Liverpool except for the league title, which is through no fault of his own.
"There is nothing he hasn't done and that comes from professionalism as well, not just his ability. He's looked after himself. He's had a fair few injuries but he's come back from them to prove people wrong and himself right that he's still a top player."
Spanish international Xabi Alonso, an Anfield midfield partner of Gerrard between 2004-09, believes he is already one of the greats, in part because the Whiston born star is one of the few players who can consistently produce when it matters most.
"He'll absolutely be remembered as one of the greats," said Alonso in an interview with the official TV station of his current club Real Madrid. "For me he is already one of the greats.
"His name and Liverpool's name will always be linked and he's a great representative of the club and the city.
"There are so many things. He is so inspirational. In the key moments he has that different thing, that spark that is difficult to define.
"He has achieved great things and in very important moments he has been the man for Liverpool."
What is there left to say about Steven George Gerrard MBE that hasn't already been expressed many times over? The guy is absolutely amazing. His dedication to the game, and the club in particular, has been phenomenal especially given the struggles we have had during long periods of his career to date. As a player, he is the complete midfielder and capable in every facet of the game to the highest level. Technique, shooting, passing, tackling, stamina, commitment... the list of traits he possesses is almost endless. Crucially he is also a shining example of how to conduct oneself and dedicate your life to the profession; something which he can hopefully help impart on the numerous youngsters making their way in this current Liverpool side. With the passing of time he could potentially go down as our greatest ever player despite the probable and undeserved lack of a league title on his resume.
Most Liverpool Appearances
Competitive, professional matches only, appearances as substitute in brackets.
1. Ian Callaghan: 1960-1978 | 857 (14)
2. Jamie Carragher: 1996-Present | 709 (30)
3. Ray Clemence: 1967-1981 | 665 (0)
4. Emlyn Hughes: 1967-1979 | 665 (0)
5. Ian Rush: 1980-1987 & 1988-1996 | 660 (30)
6. Phil Neal: 1974-1985 | 650 (2)
7. Tommy Smith: 1962-1978 | 638 (1)
8. Bruce Grobbelaar: 1980-1994 | 628 (0)
9. Alan Hansen: 1977-1991 | 620 (2)
10. Steven Gerrard: 1998-Present | 600 (54)
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