Sport | Football

Brendan Rodgers salutes ‘inspirational’ Steven Gerrard

Liverpool boss says star midfielder can play on well into his 30s

  • AFP
  • Published: 17:02 April 1, 2013
  • Gulf News

Birmingham, United Kingdom: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said Steven Gerrard could play into his late 30s after the captain inspired his side to a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Sunday.

The 32-year-old England skipper completed Liverpool’s comeback at Villa Park with a 60th-minute penalty and then produced a crucial goal-line clearance to prevent Christian Benteke from equalising.

Afterwards, Rodgers revealed that Gerrard had required a pain-killing injection in his heel in order to play, and said it was a mark of his commitment to the club.

“Steven is a remarkable man. Look at his fitness level, and his running ability. He has been like that the majority of the season,” Rodgers said.

“He had to get an injection in his heel to play. We had an issue with his heel for a couple of days.

“He had a bit of pain and was struggling to get his boot on. But for him it was a case of whatever it takes to play.

“It was nothing major but many other players might not have played or even trained. That shows the mentality and mindset of the man.

“He is just a real inspirational man, a top, top player, whose hunger and desire for Liverpool to succeed is incredible.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him. As a guy coming from the outside who has watched him all my life, to actually work with the man is a huge pleasure and privilege.”

Rodgers confirmed that the club were studying the possibility of offering Gerrard a new contract and said he could see the central midfielder playing on for several seasons.

“A new contract is something on the agenda. It will happen in due course,” he said. “Can Gerrard play on into his late 30s? Absolutely, no question.

“Guys who do that like [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes, [Gary] McAllister, it is not what they are doing now, it is what they have done earlier in their careers, when they were 17, 18, 19, 20.

“That’s what allows you to play on. Gerrard has every chance to play on into his late 30s.

“He is 32, he is England captain and wants to improve. He is still looking at areas he wants to improve on and just his enthusiasm to play football is remarkable.”

Gerrard’s winning penalty arrived on the hour, after Benteke’s first-half opener had been cancelled out by Jordan Henderson in the early stages of the second half.

Defeat left Villa in the bottom three but manager Paul Lambert said he was convinced that victories were just around the corner.

“For 45 minutes we were excellent, we competed brilliantly, we looked a threat every time we went forward against a really good side,” he said.

“The goal two minutes after the restart was disappointing to lose. But we are playing well enough to win games. We are four points from 11th place. There’s going to be some twists and turns.

“The thing for myself is that in spells we are playing really well and confidence is a big part of the game of football. If you keep that, then that will certainly help you.”

Gulf News
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