independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Gerrard is remarkable - Rodgers

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has heaped praise on skipper Steven Gerrard, pictured

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard stands on the verge of a Premier League landmark with manager Brendan Rodgers showering glowing praise on a "remarkable man".

The England skipper needs one goal to chalk up 100 in the Premier League as the campaign resumes this weekend.

He heads to Newcastle in good form having led the national team superbly in their last two World Cup qualifiers, ultimately scoring the second goal late on against Poland which safeguarded their passage to Brazil.

And while Rodgers is the first to admit Gerrard offers so much in terms of his experience and leadership he stressed it should not be forgotten his quality as a player endures.

"It's remarkable really; you saw him in the game during the week as well," said the Reds boss.

"What gets lost with Steven sometimes is that people talk about him as this great captain and a great leader, and what people forget is that he's still a world-class player. He's got big talent.

"He scored what you would probably say was a typical Gerrard goal the other night - breaking forward with power and pace and just when it looked like it was getting away from him, he reached and got his toe to it with a great finish.

"It's something I've been fully aware of since I've been here. He's probably the best player that I've ever worked with at tempo.

"The quality he can play with when the tempo is really high in a game is incredible.

"I've been fortunate enough to have worked with top, world-class players at Chelsea and some brilliant technicians when I was at Swansea.

"He's a remarkable man and a remarkable captain. England should be honoured to have someone like that represent them on and off the field.

"I've said it before and I'll repeat it again - he looks after himself so well and he's so professional and he's still got a number of years left in him yet to turn in great performances."

Gerrard was criticised for being uninspiring by former England international Terry Butcher in his role as a television pundit in midweek.

But the midfielder's leadership skills have always been about deeds rather than words and Rodgers believes Gerrard commands such respect that when he speaks his team-mates are compelled to listen.

Rodgers feels next summer will be Gerrard's international swansong - although the player himself may feel differently - and hopes he can go to Brazil and sign off in style.

"It has been well documented about England and their (lack of) achievements," he said.

"At that level there is no doubt over the last 10 years he has been exceptional in his performances.

"He's won 100-odd caps now and has put himself out there no matter where he is playing.

"I think he probably knows next year will be his last shot and I'm sure he'll be giving everything.

"I know from working closely with him that he's very proud to play for his country.

"I think he has always carried the can here (at Liverpool) for so many years. He is a wonderful ambassador for England.

"He always thinks of others and I think he has been honoured by being given the captaincy and how he has led is a wonderful example for the players there.

"Steven doesn't say a great deal but when he does the senior players and others around them will listen because he is a respected figure.

"He takes a real responsibility within the group, he doesn't just think about himself and Liverpool and England have benefited from it."

At the other end of the scale academy youngster Harry Wilson made his senior debut for Wales this week.

Rodgers, however, warned against unrealistic expectations.

"He's not near the Premier League. I was surprised (by his debut) to be honest, I think Wales had a lot of injuries," he said.

"He's a very talented young player and to have him here at the club is brilliant.

"I had a call from Ian Rush to say that he had done well in training and that (Wales manager) Chris Coleman was very pleased with how he had been, and the possibilities of having him involved.

"It escalated from there. He did well in training and was then put into the squad.

"He knows he'll have a great opportunity here if he continues to develop at Liverpool.

"It's important that we just stay calm and let him develop at his own rate."

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