Steven Gerrard’s deep sense of belonging to Liverpool and the future implications for his family proved decisive in turning his back on Chelsea, as only one club had a stranglehold on his heart.
It was the summer of 2005 and Gerrard had handed in a transfer request six weeks after leading his boyhood club to European Cup glory during an incredible night in Istanbul.
Reds were shocked and angered as the club’s captain took a firm step towards joining Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, with his head at the time having the upper hand over his heart.
Liverpool’s ability to consistently challenge for honours underpinned Gerrard’s decision-making process and it led to a messy summer for the Reds as club chiefs rebuffed the Blues’ approach.
The former No. 8 would later claim that he never truly wished to make the switch to Stamford Bridge, rather his request was one which he hoped would force Liverpool’s hand into showing their appreciation for what he brought to the side.
But it was Gerrard at the eleventh hour who pulled the plug on a move to Chelsea, with a new contract being penned at Anfield in the days after he retracted his transfer request.
And when speaking to Jude’s Journey, Gerrard opened up on how the Liverpool fans and the satisfaction of winning even one trophy at Anfield would eclipse a handful at Stamford Bridge proved decisive in realising where his future lay.
“I think the Liverpool fans played a huge, massive part. My connection and my love for playing in front of them,” Gerrard explained.
“You know feeling like I belong to this city. I always want to be able to go back to Liverpool and take my little kids to the matches and take my family to the matches. I didn’t want to upset them in any way.
“I have said it on many occasions, I think when a manager like Mourinho shows you attention and he’s proved that he’s a manager that can win things it is always going to turn your head.
“Rightly or wrongly at the time I believed I made the right decision speaking to the right people around me at the time I came to the decision where I wanted to stay at Liverpool.
“I realised that winning trophies for Liverpool would mean more to me than any other club, not just Chelsea.”
In the 10 years which followed, Gerrard’s dedication to the club was unwavering throughout even the darkest times, Tom Hicks and George Gillett we’re looking at you.
Only two pieces of silverware would follow and he came close to achieving it all on two occasions before his time at Liverpool came to an end in 2015.
Brendan Rodgers had overseen his shift into a squad player and with the belief that he still had more to give, a move to LA Galaxy awaited.
In the years since Gerrard has conceded that he wished he had stayed on with Jurgen Klopp arriving merely three months later, but a change of scenery offered time to reflect and enjoy life in with a different backdrop.
“I didn’t feel like I was ready to retire,” Gerrard continued.
“I was becoming more of a squad player and I was used to playing and being the captain of the team so that didn’t sit too well.
“I enjoyed and loved my time under Brendan. Again another fantastic coach it is no surprise to see him doing so well at Leicester.
“But I was at the stage in my career where I had to make an important decision. I just felt it was the time to move on and try something different.
“To come away from Liverpool for a short while and reflect on my career and carry on playing because I was still physically able to do it.
“I wanted to go and have a different life experience and try something different so that’s why I went there and I enjoyed my time.”