The debate over who is Liverpool’s greatest ever player has been re-opened following Steven Gerrard’s hat-trick in the Merseyside derby on Tuesday night.
Jamie Carragher has suggested Gerrard is Liverpool’s greatest – citing the fact he has been in Liverpool teams that have struggled, rather than in teams blessed with wonderful players around them.
Gerrard is almost solely responsible for dragging the club through the past decade, with numerous stand-out performances in key games where a defeat would have completely changed the direction of the football club.
Carragher told the Daily Telegraph:
“Because of what he has done for the club, I believe he is the best.
“[Kenny] Dalglish, [Graeme] Souness and Ian Rush all played together in a great team, but because football is a team game it’s been harder for Stevie because he’s not always played in great teams.
“For me, his performance in 2006 FA Cup final stands out even more than Ian Rush in the 1986 FA Cup final and he’s also regularly produced it in the major events such as the 2005 Champions League final.”
“We all know he’s in the upper echelons when it comes to Liverpool players, with most having him either first or second behind Kenny Dalglish.”
Gerrard’s Greatest Games
by BBC Sport
1) Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan, Champions League final, May 2005
Liverpool were trailing 3-0 at half-time in Istanbul, but one man refused to stop believing. Grabbing his team by the scruff of the neck, Gerrard hauled Liverpool back into the match, heading the first goal to give them a lifeline before winning the penalty from which they equalised seven minutes later after Vladimir Smicer had made it 2-3.
In extra-time, Gerrard was moved to right-back to counter the threat of substitute Serginho and the captain defied his exhausted legs to put in a series a vital blocks. Liverpool won the match on penalties, leaving Gerrard to lift the club’s fifth European Cup.
One year after the “Miracle of Istanbul”, Gerrard showed his sense of theatre once again with an incredible late strike. With Liverpool trailing 3-2 to West Ham in the 90th minute, he latched onto a loose ball and smashed a 35-yard drive into the bottom corner of Shaka Hislop’s net. The skipper then blasted home from the spot as Liverpool won a penalty shoot-out.
3) Liverpool 3-1 Olympiakos, Champions League, December 2004
Liverpool would never have reached the Champions League final in 2005 if Gerrard hadn’t bailed them out in the group stages with another last-gasp intervention. Needing to beat Olympiakos by two goals to get through, Gerrard hammered a 25-yard half-volley into the top corner after 86 minutes to seal a 3-1 triumph.
4) Liverpool 3-1 Napoli, Europa League, November 2010
Another European night, another one-man show, as Gerrard came off the bench to score a 14-minute hat-trick in a 3-1 Europa League victory over a strong Napoli side. Brought on at half-time with his side trailing 1-0, Gerrard beat keeper Morgan de Sanctis to an Andrea Dossena backpass to net an equaliser. He then slotted in a penalty and chipped the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick.
5) Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United, Premier League, March 2001
A 20-year-old Gerrard was already well-established in the Liverpool first-team when he cemented his place in the hearts of the Anfield faithful with a brutal 25-yard drive past Manchester United goalkeeper Fabian Barthez. Refusing to be overawed by a United midfield featuring Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, Gerrard produced an imposing performance as Liverpool captured their first league double over the Red Devils for 22 years.