Steven Gerrard has just retired, and if you never hated Liverpool, this should be a gloomy day for you. They don’t really make’em like Stevie G anymore. He had everything you could ever ask out of a midfielder, not to mention his loyalty and leadership. Other names that come to mind are Iniesta, Xavi, and Paul Scholes to name a few, but it is very difficult to find another player who possessed all the qualities Gerrard had.
These are the reasons he should be regarded as the most complete:
LONG PASSER – He was an incredible passer of the ball, mainly his long cross field pin point passes. They were rivalled by the best in the game, such as Xabi Alonso, Frank Lampard, Riquelme, and Paul Scholes.
GOAL SCORER – He was a great goal scorer for the position he played. Not all great midfielders could put the ball in the back of the net like he could. Lampard scored many, but Gerrard was relied on more to score for his team than the likes of a Scholes, Iniesta, or Xavi.
LONG RANGE SHOOTING – He had one of the best long shots the game has ever seen. As the video highlights will show, he scored long range efforts for fun, including volleys. Simply incredible and rare to see in today’s game. Possessing a threat from long range could force defenders to clamp down on you quicker creating openings and space to create something from it, a very valuable asset to have in your arsenal. Scholes and Lampard could strike them from distance as well, but the greatest midfielders such as Xavi and Iniesta could not.
PACE – Earlier in his career and during his prime, Gerrard had great pace for a midfielder. He was able to beat defenders one on one with a change of pace, or dribble past them when he had no options to pass. The likes of Scholes and Xavi never quite had the same pace to get past the opposition in the same manner.
DEFENSIVE ABILITY – The most skilled attacking midfielders of our time, such as Zidane, Ronaldinho, Iniesta, Deco, Riquelme and Pirlo, never quite possessed the defensive ability that Gerrard enjoyed. He was always willing to go in for a crunching tackle, make crucial stops to help his defenders, and had a tactical sense. Very rare for a player who is so gifted at scoring, to be also a great defender.
VISION – For such a gritty, hardworking player, he possessed the vision that some of the best creative midfielders were gifted with. Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez remember very well they can thank Stevie for many of the goals they scored from a beautiful pass, cross, or through ball.
FREE KICKS FOR GOALS – He has scored some great free kicks in his time. Some of the best midfielders managed to be as good or better, but Iniesta, Viera, and Paul Scholes for example did not possess this quality.
ONE TIMERS/VOLLEYS – I can’t think of another player who could strike a volley or one timed shot with such accuracy and frequency. Obviously many midfielders were able to strike the ball the same way, but none with the frequency of Gerrard. Some of his most breathtaking goals have come from this method.
ATTITUDE/LEADERSHIP – He was a leader on and off the field with a “never say die” attitude. Luis Suarez’ recent message to Gerrard, in memory of his time with him at Liverpool, paints the picture perfectly about just what kind of teammate and Captain he was. He would always be the one in the huddle screaming and giving speeches to motivate his team on the task at hand, as well as being the voice in the locker room. Not every great midfielder can say they had the same impact as Gerrard when it comes to the mentality and drive of their teammates.
LOYALTY – Through the good times, and the bad, Gerrard never gave up for Liverpool. One of the most important qualities he had, he made all the people around him feel like they could count on him. He fought for his fans, teammates, and coaches, leading by example. He could have played for Real Madrid, and possibly won more trophies than he would have at Liverpool, but he chose to stick by his team.
It is extremely difficult to think of another player who possessed all of these qualities, the best ones have some, or several, but none have all of them. If you wanted to build a team from scratch, you would be pretty safe with having Steven Gerrard as one of the first names selected. He may not have achieved the same amount of trophies, or individual awards, as the likes of Ronaldinho, Pirlo, Scholes, Xavi, or Iniesta, but he certainly was the most complete.
Football will miss you, Stevie!