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 today against Crystal Palace 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 as a player he improved me so much.
“I owe an awful lot to Gerard Houllier. He was almost like a father figure and I won my first three trophies under Gerard. 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.
“I’ve brought former players back to work in different capacities and Steven is one I felt, when his time as a player was over here, he would certainly be someone I’d love to work with.
“When I spoke to him it wasn’t something he was interested in, he was still focused on wanting to play every minute of every game, but when his time comes that will maybe open a door for the coming years.”