Steven Gerrard's brand new book 'My Liverpool Story' goes on sale today – and Liverpoolfc.com are delighted to bring you an exclusive extract.
Now available in hardback and e-book form, My Liverpool Story is a stunning photographic celebration of Gerrard's Anfield career, complete with more than 150 colour photographs and intriguing commentary from the captain.
In this exclusive extract, Gerrard tells of the moment his life changed forever after Liverpool made it clear they wanted to sign the talented eight-year-old...
I didn't realise it at the time, but when my dad told me of the interest from Anfield one night at home in Huyton everything altered for me: my direction in life, the path I'd take growing up, the choices I'd make from that day on.
I was just a baby - eight years old - but that was that. A full-blown love affair had been ignited. Dave Shannon, a coach at Liverpool's Centre of Excellence, had approached Ben McIntyre, the manager of my local Sunday League team, Whiston Juniors, and he then relayed the news to my dad.
My dad wasn't really surprised. He had grown used to scouts pulling him to one side after games. 'Is the midfielder your lad?' they would ask. 'We like him. We would like him to come and train with us.'
Manchester United, Everton and Manchester City had all been in touch and basically Liverpool's interest snowballed from there. They didn't want one of their deadly rivals pinching a talent from under their noses and so invited me to go for a trial in the old Vernon Sangster Sports Centre that used to be in the shadow of Anfield, but is now no longer there, or to Melwood in the school holidays.
Melwood? The place where Liverpool's first team train? Me?
Photo by Laurie Fletcher
Just to be driven through the iron gates of the training ground was an amazing feeling and on the way there with my dad I was imagining bumping into the likes of John Barnes and Ronnie Whelan.
Of course, there was no chance of that. The first team had long since gone home and it was night before the kids were allowed in. As it was, the first thing that really struck me about being in this magical, hallowed place that had been graced by some of the greatest players ever to play football was ... the grass. It wasn't like the scrap of land where I pretended to be a professional footballer every spare minute I had growing up in Ironside Road. It was like a carpet, a bowling green. Perfect.
At that age, I didn't have a clue if I was good or not. Whiston Juniors was a well-run club and used to produce a programme with match reports in them. I was scoring hat-tricks.
I knew I was important for my Sunday League side, maybe the best in the league, but when you turn up at Liverpool to play in a small trial game and see other young lads doing the turns and flicks that you've been practising it was like: wow! There are other good players out there too! A whole new world opened up in front of me and it was one I was desperate to be a part of.