Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Steven Gerrard voted Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year

THE pair stood in Liverpool’s foyer, one immaculate in a classy hand-man grey suit, the other with a leather jacket.

Steven Gerrard wanted to be photographed with James Bond star Daniel Craig. And there’s no prizes for guessing who looked the part in the suit.

Craig is a Liverpool fan and idolises Gerrard. The duo cut a very special dash together.

Gerrard was jokingly asked which one was James Bond, and his reply was: "I’d love it to be me."

I’ve got news for you Steven. You are Liverpool’s James Bond, the super-hero who carries the hopes and prayers of a generation of Liverpool fans, Craig included.

And now Gerrard has been voted the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year, following in the illustrious footsteps of Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore, George Best, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney.

Giants of the game, and now the Huyton-born Liverpool captain can rub shoulders with the true greats.

In a season when Manchester United could win four trophies, the league title again, the European Cup again, the skipper of the team who pushed them closest but still failed is considered our best player.

There will be plenty, from all club persuasions, who would heartily endorse the choice.

Gerrard’s triumph is a victory for a working class hero. He is the player everyone would want in their side.

The player who loves and plays for the club he has supported all his life, the player every fan would want their own players to be like.

The player who will sweat blood until Liverpool are league champions again. It probably won’t be this season, but everyone knows Gerrard will be back at Manchester United’s throats again in August. And he is not going away.

Gerrard is Liverpool. A famous son of a great, sometimes maligned, city. He could have gone to Chelsea, earned plenty and won plenty. Sir Alex Ferguson would have walked the length of the East Lancs Road to sign him.

But to Gerrard, winning just one league title with Liverpool is worth a hatful anywhere else.

We all want our own players to live and breathe our club, just like we all do. To cry when we lose, to show every conceivable emotion and hurt when it all goes wrong.

Steven Gerrard is that man. Gerrard was summed up by young West Ham midfielder Mark Noble at the weekend, after an evening chasing the Liverpool man all over the Boleyn Ground pitch.

Noble can understand what drives Gerrard. The youngster is born and bred West Ham, just like Gerrard is at Liverpool. And the young midfielder said: "He is just the best there is, isn’t he? Anywhere in the world."

The Footballer of the Year crown has gone to many who are not fit to wear Gerrard’s boots. Players who do not understand the merits of loyalty, passion and respect for the community they were born into.

But Gerrard has carried the flag for Liverpool, the city, since he broke into the team. This season he has driven, led, forced Liverpool to within touching distance of United’s crown.

He said recently: "It would mean an awful lot more to be successful at Liverpool than it would at any other club.

"I might have won more medals somewhere else, but if I was to win the league here along with a few more cups, that would mean a lot more than winning seven or eight trophies elsewhere.

"I can share it with my family, with the Liverpool supporters because I have been one of them all my life.

"I could have gone to Chelsea - and their interest turned my head slightly. But I look back now and I am really pleased I decided to stay. I am part of a top team here that can be successful."

He added: "Every day I am captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world, where you are expected to win every single game."

Single-handedly at times, Gerrard has done just that. The man who dragged Liverpool back into the 2005 European Cup final, the man who struck an amazing 35-yard effort in injury time to all but win the FA Cup a year later.

He is paid over £100,000 a week and he knows his worth - but so do Liverpool’s support and the fans of every club in the country who envy Liverpool’s star attraction.

Gerrard, these days, is a rarity. He is destined to be a one-club man and if he does lift the Premier League trophy, even the Old Trafford hordes cannot deny him his moment.

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