Gerrard's five greatest Liverpool games
London (AFP) –
Former Liverpool and England skipper Steven Gerrard called time on his glittering playing career on Thursday at the age of 36.
AFP Sport remembers five of the Liverpool legend's finest displays:
Miracle in Istanbul (v AC Milan, 2004-05 Champions League final)
Faced with the prospect of a humiliating defeat after falling 3-0 behind against an inspired AC Milan, Liverpool overcame extraordinary odds to win their first European Cup for 21 years thanks to Gerrard, whose never-say-die efforts at the Ataturk Stadium ensured he would forever be regarded as an Anfield icon. In the signature moment of Gerrard's storied career, the midfielder, who admitted he was certain Liverpool would lose at half-time, helped orchestrate a comeback for the ages. He reduced the deficit with a header before winning the penalty that led to Xabi Alonso's equaliser as Rafael Benitez's side scored three times in five incredible minutes. The Reds completed their astonishing triumph in a penalty shoot-out, leaving Gerrard to experience "the best moment of my life" as he lifted the trophy.
The 'Gerrard final' (v West Ham, 2005-06 FA Cup final)
Just 12 months after his heroics in Istanbul, Gerrard added to his growing legend by almost single-handedly winning another piece of silverware in a final destined to be remembered for his majestic contribution. Trailing 2-0 after a woeful start at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Liverpool were dragged back into the match on the strength of Gerrard's talent and tenacity. He set up Djibril Cisse to reduce the deficit before equalising himself, only for the Hammers to regain the lead. The Reds were seconds away from defeat when Gerrard struck again with a blistering 35-yard drive to force extra-time. Liverpool went on to win in a penalty shoot-out that inevitably featured a successful spot-kick from the captain.
Last-gasp European heroics (v Olympiakos, 2004-05 Champions League)
When Rivaldo gave Olympiakos a shock lead at Anfield in a decisive group-stage clash, it appeared Benitez's team were destined for a lacklustre exit. But Gerrard rose to the occasion with an unmatchable fervour that inspired an epic fightback. Goals from Florent Sinama Pongolle and Neil Mellor put Liverpool within a solitary strike of progressing to the knockout stages, setting the stage for Gerrard to fire home with a sweetly struck shot from just outside the penalty area in the 86th minute. It was a moment destined to go into Anfield folklore as Liverpool went on to become European champions for a fifth time that season.
Treble Derby delight (v Everton, 2011-12 Premier League)
Entering the twilight of his career, Gerrard was struggling to silence the critics who claimed he was past his best. But the sight of Merseyside rivals Everton typically brought the best out of him and that was the case again at Anfield as he scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win that was just reward for a virtuoso performance. It was the first hat-trick in a Merseyside derby since Ian Rush scored four in the Reds' 5-0 win at Goodison Park in 1982 and the first at Anfield since Fred Howe achieved the feat for Liverpool in 1935.
Red revenge (v Manchester United, 2000-01 Premier League)
Although Gerrard never quite succeeded in knocking United off their perch as the Premier League's top dogs for much of his career, he did enjoy some notable individual successes against the old enemy. He scored nine goals against United and the pick of them came on a spring day at Anfield when he lashed a superb long-range strike past Fabien Barthez to open the scoring in a 2-0 win that gave Liverpool a first double over their rivals in 22 years.
© 2016 AFP