Jamie Redknapp has likened Steven Gerrard to Superman – and spoken of his belief that our skipper's return to fitness will help bring Champions League football back to Anfield.
Liverpool's resurgence under Kenny Dalglish was all the more impressive because it occurred largely without the aid of Gerrard.
Injuries restricted him to just six appearances after the change of manager on January 8.
The 31-year-old underwent groin surgery in April and is hopeful of enjoying a full pre-season ahead of our opening weekend meeting with Sunderland.
Redknapp believes his return will be crucial.
"I hope he is back to full fitness next year - he is Superman," the Sky Sports pundit told Liverpoolfc.tv before teeing off in the Steven Gerrard Foundation Trophy in Portugal.
"Hopefully he can come back to full fitness - that's the key. He's had surgery - I spoke to him and he said he feels great and really strong.
"I think it's really exciting times. With Kenny back there, and Luis Suarez - I love watching him play. It's exciting times for Liverpool and I hope we can get back certainly into Champions League football. With Kenny, I believe that can happen."
Redknapp was signed by Dalglish from Bournemouth in 1991.
He went on to play 308 games for Liverpool, scoring 41 goals - but the league title evaded him just as it has Gerrard.
While regaining entry into European football's premier competition will be the aim next term, Redknapp isn't ruling Liverpool out of any race for the title.
"It was different class to see Kenny back," said the 37-year-old. "He signed me as a 17-year-old. All the fans have responded to it. When I've been to Anfield the atmosphere has been so good because he's there, he has that magnetism. People love him and love watching his teams play.
"Next year will be the most open league title in years. You look at it and with one or two new players - and Kenny will have identified those - I don't think Liverpool will be far away, and I'd love to see that."
The Steven Gerrard Foundation works in consultation with its charitable partner, the Consortium for Street Children (CSC). For more information or to make a donation visit the SGF website.