John Aldridge slams Steven Gerrard critics and lauds 'Liverpool's greatest player' on his retirement
John Aldridge has hailed Steven Gerrard as the greatest player to pull on a Liverpool shirt and suggested those who have sniped at the former Reds skipper down the years need to ‘wake up and smell the roses’.
Gerrard has confirmed that he is calling time on his magnificent career, after struggling to make his mark in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy over the last 18 months.
Yet his retirement has been greeted with a predictable burst of abuse from fans of rival clubs, with Aldridge suggesting their distain for Gerrard was inspired by the respect they had for his talents.
“Steven Gerrard has probably attracted as much animosity as any player in the modern game and there is a good reason for that – his rivals have appreciated what a damn good player he has been,” Aldridge told sundayworld.com
“A section of the Stamford Bridge crowd gave Gerrard a standing ovation as he left the field in in one of his final games for Liverpool last year and it was evidence that true football people appreciate what this player has contributed to the Premier League over the best part of two decades.
“Fair play to Chelsea supporters who acknowledged as great player in his final match at their ground, but we saw yet more evidence of the petty hatred people have for Liverpool’s greatest ever player.
“What the hell were Chelsea fans up to holding up little yellow pieces of plastic referencing Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea in the game that cost Liverpool the title back in 2014? Come on lads, this is not the playground, we are all grown ups here and you made yourself look very silly.
“The same can be said of the treatment he has got from Manchester United and Everton supporters down the years and it is a shame that the game seems to have this tribal side to it these days.
“I’m not looking through rose tinted glasses when I reflect on my playing days because while Liverpool and United fans have always disliked each other, there is a nastiness to the animosity between rivals players and supporters that is unpleasant these days.”
Aldridge suggests Gerrard should be classed a step above Kenny Dalglish in Liverpool’s list of all-time greats, even though he never got his hands on the Premier League trophy.
“I’m convinced we waved farewell to the greatest Liverpool player of all-time when he left the club and to those who say he is not a great because he didn’t win the Premier League need to wake up and smell the roses,” he added.
“Gerrard came close to joining Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004 and 2005 and the truth is, he would have won a few Premier League titles with them if he had walked away from the club and joined a team that blew their rivals into submission financially.
“In the end, he just couldn’t bring himself sell his soul to the highest bidder and I know for a fact that he has no regrets about his decision.
“Winning the Champions League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup with Liverpool meant more than anything he might have collected in a blue Chelsea shirt. That’s the way he sees it.
“The truth is that this is a Liverpool lad who had lived the dream, played for the club he has supported all his life and turned out to be a legend whose legacy will live on for years to come.
“Those who still chose to snipe at him are making themselves look foolish in my eyes because everyone who matters in this game have nothing but praise for a player who has covered himself in glory for a variety of reasons for so long.”