Steven Gerrard declared he still had “a lot to offer the game” as he retired from playing on this day five years ago – and the Liverpool legend has already proved that to be true
No fan would have criticised Steven Gerrard if he had decided to temporarily step away from football upon retiring from playing on 24 November 2016.
After a 19-year career including 710 Liverpool appearances, nine major trophies and 114 England caps, the legendary midfielder thoroughly deserved a break.
Within three months, however, Gerrard found himself back with the Reds in a coaching capacity having already turned down the chance to manage League One side Milton Keynes Dons.
Then aged 36, the Merseyside native had no desire to recharge his batteries and instead declared he still had a “lot to offer the game”.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career,” Gerrard said exactly five years ago.
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“I have had an incredible career and am thankful for each and every moment of my time at Liverpool, England and LA Galaxy. I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the famous red shirt of Liverpool.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.”
Gerrard’s return to Liverpool was met with great excitement, but his relatively-minor role as a youth coach allowed him to hone his new trade away from the limelight once this died down.
He had worked on his UEFA coaching badges during his time with LA Galaxy – where he spent two seasons after leaving Liverpool in 2015 – and continued his progress by shadowing Liverpool’s Under-16s, Under-18s and Under-23s.
Gerrard’s ability caught the eye of senior manager Jurgen Klopp and academy director Alex Inglethorpe, leading to his appointment at U18 boss in April 2017.
He helped steer the young Reds to a third-place finish in the north division of Premier League 2 and also led the Under-19s to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League having been handed the reins in September.
While Gerrard felt MK Dons came calling “a bit too soon” in late 2016, he was ready to make the step up to senior management in May 2018 following Graeme Murty’s dismissal.
He set about chipping away at Celtic’s dominance in the Scottish Premiership, leading the Gers to their first Old Firm victory in over six years that December.
Gerrard achieved his UEFA Pro Licence in June 2019 and that summer he reportedly turned down the chance to replace Rafael Benitez at Newcastle United to stay at Rangers.
His toils at Ibrox came to fruition in the 2020/21 campaign as he led his side to an astonishing, unbeaten season en route to their first league title in 10 years.
This only increased Gerrard’s stock, but he appeared content to stay with the Scottish giants in a bid to try and defend their crown and further develop his ability.
That was until Aston Villa came calling in early November, presenting the Premier League icon with the chance to return to the English top flight and take charge of a squad full of underperforming but gifted talents.
Villa’s offer proved too attractive to turn down and Gerrard was appointed manager on a three-and-a-half year deal to replace Dean Smith.
He immediately reversed a run of five consecutive defeats by guiding the Midlands club to a 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
His managerial credentials are clear for all to see, and Gerrard has more than proved he has “a lot to offer” in the dugout less than five years on from hanging up his boots.
Many believe he has embarked on a winding path to becoming Liverpool manager, and countless Anfield greats have tipped him to succeed Jurgen Klopp.
When or if Gerrard will return to Liverpool is unclear, but his managerial career so far shows fans he will not rush into any job if he feels he is not ready, even though his future is undoubtedly exciting.