Saturday 29 April 2017

Gerrard returns to Anfield academy

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is to return to the club as an academy coach
Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is to return to the club as an academy coach

Chris Bascombe

Steven Gerrard is back at Liverpool after accepting a coaching role at the club's academy.

Just over 18 months after leaving Anfield, the former captain has been confirmed in position for a development post, assisting youth director Alex Inglethorpe. The 36-year-old will formally start in his new role next month as he embarks on the latest stage of his career.

"It feels like completing the circle; returning to the place where professionally it all began," said Gerrard. "However, this isn't a decision based on emotion - it's about what I can offer and contribute to Liverpool.

"I don't think I need to explain to people what this football club means to me, but when I knew coming back was a serious option I wanted to make sure it was a substantive role and a role in which I could really help the organisation.

"Meeting with Alex Inglethorpe, seeing the work they are currently doing and want to do in the future at Kirkby, it just felt right. The right option at the right time, for all parties involved.

"This gives me a great opportunity to learn and develop as a coach, while at the same time offering my knowledge, ideas and experience to the young players at an important period of their development."

Gerrard has made his long-term coaching ambitions known since announcing his retirement from playing football last month at the end of his stint at LA Galaxy.

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He held talks with MK Dons but declined the chance to go straight into management at the lower levels, preferring instead to learn his trade as he continues his Uefa 'A' licence.Based at Liverpool's academy in Kirkby, he will be in position to sound out one of his mentors, Steve Heighway, as he coaches and inspires the club's next generation of footballers.

Initially, Gerrard will have a roaming role focused across the age groups. A more defined job title is anticipated at the end of the season.

Liverpool's academy director, Inglethorpe - who has invited several former players and even some current senior players to work alongside him during coaching sessions.

Inglethorpe added: "I don't think it would surprise anyone to know that Steven has had a host of great options in terms of what to do next in his career, including playing, management and coaching. But it's been evident from the first meeting with him that his heart and head belongs here.

"He has shown great humility in making it clear from the outset he wants a role where he can contribute to Liverpool. It's typical of him that his priority has been defining the role so it helps the club, ahead of himself.

"He has expressed a desire to learn from us and manage a young team.

"The benefits to us will be immense. This is a substantial role and one which makes the academy and the club in general stronger and better."

In his new position, Gerrard will still be able to continue his role as a television pundit for BT Sport.

It was suggested Gerrard would eventually return to Anfield as soon as he confirmed he was leaving the club, which he did in the summer of 2015.

Now that day has come in what could be the first step in a journey towards becoming a manager - maybe one day of Liverpool - in his own right.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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