Steven Gerrard began his new role at Liverpool’s academy recently, working alongside academy staff from the under-6s through to the under-23s.
The iconic midfielder’s presence at the Kirkby academy base is an inspirational one for young players and for the coaching staff – but it must also be pretty daunting for coaches when they’re demonstrating drills!
Liverpool’s under-16s coach Barry Lewtas jokes: “When it comes to shooting and ball striking demonstrations, I’m definitely going to hang up my boots and leave those to Steven because you can’t get any better than him!”
Of course, Gerrard’s goals from outside the box, especially during his earlier years at Anfield, became his trademark and made him the iconic midfielder he is.
It must be a brilliant experience for a young player to have a player of Gerrard’s calibre detail how to strike a ball for a shot or a driven pass out wide.
Lewtas describes having Gerrard around the academy as “absolutely brilliant for the young lads and for us as coaches.
“Where all of these boys want to be and want to get to, Steven has been.
“He is a fantastic role model and it’s valuable for us all to be able to learn from his journey and experiences.”
Gerrard isn’t the only former player seen frequently at the academy, with Rob Jones, Steve McManamanan and Robbie Fowler also giving up their time in voluntary mentor roles in recent years.
“There is a special environment and atmosphere here at the Academy, which I believe is extremely healthy for coaches and players,” says Lewtas.
Speaking to This Is Anfield recently, former Reds’ Under-23s coach Michael Beale praised academy director Alex Inglethorpe for bringing the trio back to the club.
“Their work at the academy is very important,” praised Beale.
“Alex Inglethorpe has been fantastic at bringing these people back and I think it takes a very intelligent man and confident man to bring these icons back into the club with no worry and the only thing he is worried about is the development of the players.
“It’s been a pleasure for me to know them, I was delighted to be involved with the idea of asking Steven [Gerrard] to come back and something I was greatly excited about and I wanted him to work closely with me because I know what he can offer.
“I repeat that Alex deserves big praise for that, there’s too many people in football and other industries that are happy to not do things like that and keeping themselves as king. All he wants is to develop the players and these guys come in and they don’t coach, Steven is going to coach, but they are around the session adding some support and I think that’s fantastic.”
* Read our full interview with Michael Beale here.