Thursday 22 March 2018

'Proud' Gerrard to end playing days with Reds after signing new deal

Luke Edwards

Steven Gerrard's love affair with Liverpool will continue after he signed a contract extension that suggests he will end his playing career at Anfield.

Gerrard (31) has made a brilliant return to the side following a frustrating 14 months of injuries and infections, and the news that the captain has committed the rest of his playing days to the club completes an excellent week for manager Kenny Dalglish.

A first-half penalty from Gerrard, who has made 566 appearances since his debut in November 1998, on Wednesday night means Liverpool will go into the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Anfield with a 1-0 lead.

In 2009, Gerrard signed a two-year extension that took him up to 2013. While Liverpool have not disclosed the length of the latest extension, it will be for at least one year, possibly on a rolling agreement, committing him to the club until 2014 at least.

"It's a very proud day for myself and my family," said Gerrard, who has agreed to take up an ambassadorial role for the club when he stops playing.

"It comes on the back of a fantastic team performance when we got the result we were looking for. The contract extension coming the day after has been the icing on the cake so it has been a perfect 24 hours.

"This is the club I love and is the club I have supported since I was a young boy. I love coming to work every day and the experiences I have had since I was eight years of age and first signed for the club, I wouldn't change them for the world. To extend that and to hopefully have some more good times in a red shirt is what I want.

"I'm confident, moving forward, that the club is going in the right direction. We've got a fantastic team, we've got the right owners in place and the right team behind our team, so I'm really confident we'll have more good experiences."

Although Dalglish has tried to rebuild the team over the last 12 months, he always intended to do so around Gerrard and the Scot feels it was the most important signing of all.

"It's fantastic for everybody," said Dalglish. "In this day and age there are not many people who go through their football career and represent just one club, especially people with quality, like Steven.

"It's not as if he's been at a football club that has been without success either. If you're happy where you're playing, you're enjoying what you're doing and you enjoy the football club, I don't see any reason to move, and it's fantastic for us that he hasn't.

"Over the past couple of years he's had a couple of disappointing spells where he's picked up injuries through no fault of anybody. He picked up a couple of infections which were completely unrelated. He's come back fantastically well and is starting to get himself back to full fitness."

Dalglish also chose the moment to praise the work his captain does behind the scenes, traits that will surely lead to a career in management one day.

"People only see what he does on the pitch," he added. "Steven, being the club captain, is very impressive -- if there's a problem to be sorted in the dressing room, which isn't very often, he'll deal with it and it doesn't come any further than the dressing room, which is fantastic for us. He stands up to be counted on and off the pitch."

Gerrard was also flattered by the offer of an ambassador's role in the future. He said: "It's really flattering for me that the club have offered me the chance to stay when I eventually hang my boots up. Hopefully that will be in many years to come because I want to play for as long as I can." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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