With Steven Gerrard receiving a well earned testimonial this weekend, Steven Speed pens his own personal tribute to the Liverpool captain.
With Steven Gerrard receiving a well earned testimonial this week, I wanted to pay my own personal tribute. I can think of no better way of doing this than to talk about and remember my favourite goals by Liverpool’s captain fantastic. There are obviously many fabulous goals to choose from and although some of my choices were obvious for this list, others I had to think about. There were goals I left out that other people may have in their own top ten but that is the beauty of personal opinion.
I will explain the reasons why I have chosen each goal and tell a few personal anecdotes surrounding some of them. My choices for this top ten are a mixture of spectacular strikes and goals that had massive importance at the time. Whatever you think of my choices, and the order in which I have rated them, I think you will agree that every one of them was a superb goal. It was difficult to pick just ten goals from his collection because as we all know Stevie doesn’t tend to score many tap ins.
There are a few truly incredible goals I did not include in my top ten but still feel they are worthy of an honourable mention. These goals would be; his first Liverpool goal in December 1999, which came after a slalom run against Sheffield Wednesday.
Another classic is the last minute free kick at Aston Villa on the opening day of the 2007/08 season. The diagonal blockbuster at Goodison Park in 2001, and his one hundredth goal, which was a carbon copy of so many of his goals, a long range blast into the top corner from an indirect free kick. I could actually go on for hours listing his great goals, but for now I will just concentrate on my own personal favourite top ten.
10. vs Inter Milan – March 2008
For my first choice in this list I have chosen the goal in the Champions League game, which came just a few minutes after Dirk Kuyt had given Liverpool the lead in front of the Kop. Not only was it an incredible piece of skill, how he knew to take the shot I don’t know, but it gave Liverpool a precious two goal lead to take into the second leg at the San Siro. He drove a low accurate shot from twenty yards and the ball crept into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. This was Stevie’s fiftieth goal at Anfield and it also earned him the achievement of being the first Liverpool player to score in five successive European games in the same season.
This was the only Liverpool Champions League game I missed watching live during the 2007/08 campaign. It is for that reason that I remember it best due to the stomach cramps I felt all day at work through nerves. I somehow managed to avoid the score all afternoon and early evening and by the time I arrived at the pub for the replay I was on the verge of exploding. Unfortunately an innocent drinker at the pub approached me as I took my seat and said “great win today”. The tension of the previous few hours was then regretfully taken out on this fella as I screamed “I’m gonna’ kill you!” Fortunately for everyone I soon calmed down and settled down to watch the game.
9. vs Middlesborough – August 2008
This was the winning goal right at the end of Liverpool’s first home game of the current season. Things weren’t going to plan and Liverpool were 1-0 down thanks to a goal from Mido. With five minutes to go Jamie Carragher scored with a deflected shot to set up the kind of dramatic finish that has been a regular occurrence this season. Deep into injury time Xabi Alonso played a ball into the area that wasn’t cleared properly. The ball was loose at the edge of the box and up popped Stevie to hit a rocket shot and bury the ball into the top corner of the goal. It was a hit that brought back memories of his goal against Olympiakos in 2004 and gave the Reds a valuable three points and a maximum return from the first two games of the season.
8. vs Deportivo Alaves – UEFA Cup Final, May 2001
The magical cup treble of 2000/01 was completed in Dortmund as Liverpool defeated Alaves 5-4 in the greatest UEFA Cup Final ever. Babbel opened the scoring for the Reds and then Gerrard put us two up. He latched on to a superb through ball from Michael Owen and blasted a low shot along the ground and into the net. This was a great way to finish a fantastic season for the club and for Steven personally as he was named the Young Player of the Year. This was also to be the start of Stevie going on to score in every club cup final for Liverpool.
7. vs Arsenal – April 2008
While not being Stevie’s most spectacular goal, it is definitely one of the most important. This one came in the second leg of the Champions league quarter final against Arsenal at Anfield. The tie was deadlocked at 1-1 after the first leg and this game proved to be one of the best in recent history. Arsenal took the lead to cancel out Liverpool’s away goal before Hyypia and Torres put The Reds into the lead. With less than ten minutes remaining Adebayor scored to put Arsenal ahead on away goals.
Our heads all went down at the pub at this moment and it looked like we were going to get knocked out of Europe. Unbelievably straight from the kick off, Ryan Babel was brought down in the area and Liverpool had a penalty. Up stepped Stevie to take possibly the most important penalty of his career so far. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife at Anfield and around the world for those of us watching on television. Stevie was probably the calmest man in the ground at that moment as he stepped up and buried the ball in the back of the net to put the Reds into another Champions League semi final, against Chelsea.
6. vs Southampton – January 2001
I chose this next goal simply for being visually spectacular and thoroughly memorable. It has become a staple clip in video compilations of spectacular Liverpool goals. It came on a cold new year’s day as Liverpool defeated Southampton 2-1 at Anfield. Gerrard scored Liverpool’s opener with one of his most spectacular long range strikes. He picked the ball up in midfield and advanced towards the Kop goal before firing an unerring shot from thirty five yards. The ball flew flew through the air and arrowed into the back of the net off the crossbar.
5. vs Manchester United – March 2001
This was another one for the large collection of Stevie’s spectacular goals. What makes this particular long range effort even more special was that it came in a victory over Man Utd. He latched onto a cushioned pass from Robbie Fowler before unleashing a powerful shot that flew past Barthez and into the top corner of the net. It was so amazing to see the net bulge and then see Stevie race across the pitch before sliding into the touchline in jubilation. He had been developing a reputation as one of the best young talents in the country and this goal was probably the moment that turned him into a superstar at Anfield.
4. vs AC Milan – Champions League Final, May 2005
What can I say about this goal that hasn’t been said a thousand times? As we all know it was the start of the amazing fightback that led to winning a fifth European Cup. It simply had to be Steven Gerrard who got the first goal and the way he waved his arms at the supporters got us all believing that the seemingly impossible could actually be achieved. In this one moment our captain gave us hope and brought us from the depths of despair. That alone makes this such a priceless goal. As for the goal itself, it was a brilliant header, guided into the side of the net with incredible technique and accuracy. It was a fabulous goal on a fabulous evening for Liverpool FC.
3. vs Middlesborough – April 2005
I think that this is without doubt his most spectacular goal so far. The reason I have chosen it ahead of the goal in Istanbul is because it has personal significance. It was the last league goal I saw in person before moving to Vancouver, Canada just a few days later after the Champions League semi final victory over Chelsea. I still have the celebrations from this goal saved on my mobile phone and I use it as one of my ring tones so that I can remember it every day.
Stevie received John Arne Riise’s crossfield ball just inside the Middlesbrough half. It bounced up, he chested it down and then from maybe thirty five yards he fired a brilliant dipping, swerving half-volley into the top corner of the Kop goal to make the score 1-1. It was an incredible shot and one of the finest long range goals I‘ve ever seen from any player before or since.
2. vs Olympiakos – December 2004
For my next choice I had to go with his cracker against Olympiakos in the final group game of the 2004/05 Champions League campaign. I chose this goal because without it there would have been no Istanbul and possibly no more Steven Gerrard as a Liverpool player at the end of that season. I was waiting for my flight back to Liverpool, having spent the previous two years globe trotting around Australasia and Thailand. I was sitting in the airport bar nursing the one drink I could afford and a plate of fries a generous fellow passenger had bought me. I was in my Liverpool shirt surrounded by American businessmen just watching ESPN with no sound. I couldn’t believe my luck when the Liverpool VS Olympiakos game came on the T.V, as I had arrived at the airport several hours early for my flight due to lack of funds. I asked for the volume to be turned up and sat back to watch an incredible match.
I remember my loud, boisterous enthusiasm throughout the game began to attract the attention of the American businessmen who began to watch it with me. Just like all Reds fans around the world my chest was full of butterflies when the clock was ticking down and the score stood at 2–1, which wasn’t enough to qualify for the knockout stages.
When Gerrard’s belter flew in, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I jumped out of my seat and ran around the bar like a lunatic before exchanging high fives with the American’s. They ended up buying me drinks afterwards because they’d been so entertained by my antics during the game.
I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Gray’s commentary but his scream of; “You beauty, what a hit son”, will go down as one of the best ever for any Liverpool goal. Annoyingly Gray kind of ruined the moment a few days later when he apologised for his comment in his Everton column in the Liverpool Echo.
1. vs West Ham United – F.A. Cup Final, May 2006
The first FA Cup Final at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, is known as the ‘Owen Final’ and the last one is known as the ‘Gerrard Final.’
Stevie scored two fantastic goals in what is probably the best ever FA Cup Final. His first was to level the game at 2-2. He latched onto a knock down from Crouch to volley an unstoppable thunderbolt into the top corner. The best was still to come.
With the ninetieth minute rapidly approaching, West Ham kicked the ball out of play when Cisse went down injured. We immediately passed the ball back to the West Ham keeper, Hislop, who proceeded to give us the ball straight back. The ball suddenly fell to Gerrard about thirty yards from goal. Just minutes earlier Stevie had been lying on his back with cramp getting stretched by Riise. It was now do or die as he went for goal with a first time shot which would surely be the last chance of the game. At the time it was almost like watching in slow motion as the ball flew into the bottom corner of the goal. It was like one of those cliché’d sporting moments with the winning goal/basket/touchdown/home run in the last minute filmed in slow motion and I still can’t believe that it went in. It was an amazing goal and I truly believe that Stevie is the only player that could have done it.
Despite suffering cramp he was able to go on and score in the penalty shoot out and help us win the trophy. His second goal in open play that day surely must be ranked as the greatest goal ever in an FA Cup Final.
Steven Speed is the author of the forthcoming LFC book, ‘Ex-Reds Remembered: 50 Liverpool FC players of the 80s, 90s & 00s’ – available later this month.