If Steven Gerrard individually thanked all the people he wanted to thank, his retirement statement would have ran for ever.

One of the greatest English players of the last two decades is also a study in humility and honesty.

He genuinely feels fortunate.

It is a phenomenon common to so many iconic sportsmen and women.

Pull on the robes of combat and there is a confidence, a swagger, a self-belief, an aggression that defines a supreme athlete.

Stripped of them, their belligerence vanishes.

That was Steven Gerrard the player and that is Steven Gerrard the man.

It was predictable and fitting that among those name-checked for significant gratitude were Steve Heighway, Dave Shannon and Hugh McAuley - his Liverpool mentors at youth level.

During his time under their tutelage, Gerrard had to write a letter of self-appraisal - at the age of 15 and three-quarters.

Part of it read: “I am easily approachable, always up for a laugh and try to get on with everyone.

“The coaches would say there are no doubts about my ­footballing ability but I need to control my temper on the field. I hope they think I am a good lad off the field as well.

“In five years’ time, I see myself hopefully playing first team football, settled with a girlfriend and talking of houses and family.”

It is now in 20 years’ time and it is fair to say he pretty much ticked off the wishlist.

The penchant for self-analysis that surfaced as a teenager remained with Gerrard throughout his playing career.

Maybe only now would the magnitude of the contribution he made to Liverpool Football Club, in particular, and to England, strike the man himself.

Yes, there were huge disappointments with England - and you bet he has many regrets - but no player wins 114 caps without being special.

And the honours? Champions League, two FA Cups, one UEFA Cup, three League Cups, PFA Player of the Year 2006, FWA Footballer of the Year 2009.

He was named in the PFA Team of the Year on no fewer than eight occasions.The miracle of Istanbul towered above all but there were many memorable moments.

And a couple of goals - from the hundreds of Gerrard performances I covered - perfectly dramatised everything he was about.

There was his first international goal on that surreal September night in Munich back in 2001.

With the scores at 1-1, Gerrard - just before half-time - despatched a 25-yard right-footer into the bottom corner.

It was a lesson in shooting technique and attacking drive and determination that would be among the hallmarks of a wonderful career.

They were there to be seen when he sent the 2006 FA Cup Final against West Ham into extra-time - and scored in Liverpool’s penalty shootout triumph.

Many - including himself - wondered what he might have won had he left Liverpool while still in his pomp.

But while he might wonder and wonder, Gerrard will not regret.

What made him such a titan of the game was the responsibility he took for his hometown club, his hometown fans, his hometown.

It consumed him. It’s also what made him special.

He wouldn’t thank you for saying it. He’d rather thank others.

Football might have seen this retirement coming from a long way off.

But it should salute a great career all the same.

Source: Daily Mirror

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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