On Tuesday 5th July 2005, Steven Gerrard handed in a transfer request to leave Anfield for Chelsea Football Club; just weeks after leading his boyhood club to the much-celebrated Champions League victory against AC Milan in Istanbul.
The transfer request came at a time when Chelsea were at the start of something huge. They had just been crowned league champions and Roman Abromovich was an owner with plenty of ambition and stacks of money to go with it as well. The Blues also had one of the most talented managers in the world in Jose Mourinho, who led Portuguese side Porto to Champions League glory the year before.
In light of Gerrard’s recent announcement, is there still a slight part of Gerrard that wonders what might have been? 2005 was as good as it got for Gerrard in terms of winning trophies for Liverpool. Chelsea, on the other hand, have grown from strength to strength since then, becoming one of Europe’s powerhouses. The one title that alludes Steven Gerrard is probably the most important, the Premier League. If he led Liverpool to glory last season, he may have considered that job done. However, when you are a player possessing Gerrard’s ability, the absence of a league title to your name is almost farcical.
Joining Chelsea would have undoubtedly been a risk, but one that could have paid off. A Chelsea team with Steven Gerrard included would have been sublime, and having a player of that ability in the side could have resulted in more trophies arriving at Stamford Bridge over the years. Although the offer to move to West London would have been a hard one to turn down, Gerrard eventually opted for a heart-over-head decision to stay put with Liverpool.
Some may say that it was the wrong decision. However, Gerrard has become one of the greatest Liverpool players of all time and his commitment to the club will never be forgotten.
His association with Liverpool is similar to the impact Alan Shearer had at Newcastle United. Shearer was offered the chance to sign for Manchester United from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 before deciding to join his beloved Newcastle United. He then went on to become the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer with 260 goals. Shearer will always be remembered for just how good a player he was, not for the amount of trophies he may have lost out on by joining Newcastle.
The same applies to Steven Gerrard, if he is remembered for not winning a Premier League title in 30 years time and not for being one of the finest footballers of his generation, something has seriously gone wrong with the world.
He has enjoyed a glorious career where he has shone at his hometown club, leading them to levels that would have been unachievable in his absence – think of Cardiff in 2006. He became a great England captain and has continued to perform brilliantly on a consistent basis both domestically and internationally.
The only regret that may be in his mind at the moment is the possibility that he is leaving Liverpool football club too early. Realistically, he is still Liverpool’s best player. As he has got older, he adapted his game slightly to suit his tiring legs, yet he is still the club’s top goalscorer this season.
Although Liverpool may feel like it’s the right time to let their captain leave, Frank Lampard has proved at Manchester City that he is still one of the league’s best at what he does. The same applies to Steven Gerrard, there is an overriding sense that he is joining the MLS prematurely and fans of the Premier League are missing out on another couple of seasons of Gerrard at the highest level.
Overall, Gerrard may look back on what happened in 2005 and wonder if he made the right decision. However, since then he has cemented himself into Anfield folklore and is easily one of the best central midfielders the Premier League, and the world, has ever seen.
He may not have a Premier League title to his name but Gerrard remains one of the greatest talents this country has produced and his achievements in the game will be fondly remembered for a long time to come.