Steven Gerrard apologises to team mates for farewell ‘distraction’

Former England captain urges Raheem Sterling to concentrate on Liverpool future

Steven Gerrard is trying not to his let emotions get the better of him as the Liverpool captain and talisman prepares for his Anfield farewell in his final competitive appearance in front of the Kop as Crystal Palace visit Merseyside on Saturday.

The 34-year-old Gerrard, who has made 708 appearances in a glittering 17-year career with his hometown club, is moving to Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the season.

The 2005 Champions League-winning captain told the club’s website: “I think at the moment where I am, with a couple of games left to go, I don’t really want to think about it too much.

“Everyone’s talking about it but for me I just want to stay focused on the remaining games and the training and sessions ahead.

“There’s plenty of time to be sentimental and emotional after the games are done but I don’t really want to listen to supporters being emotional face to face because I’m a little bit afraid of breaking down and showing too much.

“I’m going to get the attention at the weekend, it’s not something I really like, but hopefully I can put in a good performance for the supporters so we can get a win and I can enjoy the send-off that I’m going to get.”

Gerrard used his farewell press conference though to urge Raheem Sterling to sign a new contract at Anfield and be wary of "wanting it all too soon".

Sterling has been in dispute over a contract extension with Liverpool since October having rejected the club's offer of a new five-year deal worth £100,000 a week. The future of the 20-year-old remains in serious doubt with Liverpool almost certainly missing out on Champions League qualification this season, albeit while having the England international under contract until 2017.

Biased

Gerrard, who himself came close to leaving Liverpool for Chelsea earlier in his career, insists Sterling's career would be best served by staying under the tutelage of manager Brendan Rodgers.

The departing captain said: “Of course I’m biased but my advice to Raheem now is you have a manager who will believe in you and you can learn from and there is no one better than Brendan Rodgers for that. He should sign a new deal here. Brendan is a fantastic man-manager and puts a lot of time and effort into the development of an individual. The danger for these young players is they want it all too soon and they go chasing it. Then they go to another club and just become a number.”

Gerrard has only two more matches remaining of an illustrious Liverpool career before joining LA Galaxy this summer. The 34-year-old has signed a two-year contract with the MLS but will look to return to his boyhood club after his spell in the United States, although only if he feels qualified for the position on offer.

The former England captain said: “I certainly have ambitions to stay in the game. I think to take a position at this club you have to be good enough; you can’t take one on reputation or name. It would be very naive to take a role here because you’re Steven Gerrard or you’ve had a role on the pitch with the club. If there’s a role offered that I feel I’m good enough for in a couple of years then I’ll certainly consider it. I do feel I can contribute to some role in the future.”

Apology

Gerrard admitted “dreading” saying farewell to the Liverpool supporters after Saturday’s game and apologised to his team-mates for becoming a distraction in the buildup to the Palace match. “That was never my intention but I suppose it’s only normal after 17 years that the attention is on me and I apologise to my team-mates for that,” he said.

The Liverpool midfielder also paid tribute to his coaches at youth team level – Steve Heighway, Dave Shannon and Hugh McAuley – plus his former manager Gérard Houllier for their influence on his career. "Gérard was almost like a father figure to me," he added. "He improved me a lot tactically, I won my first three trophies under him and to give me the captaincy of a huge club like this at 23 was a bold thing to do."

Guardian Services

READ MORE