Steven Gerrard’s career has come full circle after he agreed to return to Liverpool as a coach at the club’s academy.
Since Gerrard ended his playing career last November following a spell with LA Galaxy, it had been widely expected that the 36-year-old would go back to where it all began but he was determined to take time to consider his options.
Some clubs wanted him to carry on as a player, and MK Dons made him an offer to become their manager but that opportunity came at the wrong time.
He wanted to enjoy Christmas with his family before coming to a decision about what to do next.
Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has rejoined the club on a full-time basis as a coach
Gerrard will develop his coaching skills under the stewardship of Alex Inglethorpe at Kirkby
Gerrard has been doing his Uefa A licence under the guidance of Liverpool staff this term
The club’s longest-serving captain greets Steve Heighway on Friday at Liverpool’s academy
Gerrard has previously spoken of his desire to cut his teeth in coaching at his boyhood club
Gerrard will bring with him invaluable experience and expertise from his career at Anfield
The lure of going back to the club who launched him on the path to greatness was impossible to resist.
Gerrard will be based at the academy in Kirkby and he will work with all age groups while he continues studying to obtain his full coaching badges and works as a pundit for BT Sport.
Gerrard stopped playing for Liverpool in May 2015, having made 710 appearances, but he continued to visit Kirkby when the chance allowed and he will work closely with academy director Alex Inglethorpe.
He is relishing the opportunity to get started next month.
‘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.
Gerrard and Inglethorpe take a look at the images on the walls of the club’s academy base
Inglethorpe said of Gerrard that: ‘his heart and head belongs here’ upon his appointment
Gerrard travelled to Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round replay away at Plymouth on Wednesday
The former England captain snubbed a role with MK Dons after being approached last year
Premier League: 504 appearances, 120 goals
FA Cup: 42 apps, 15 goals
League Cup: 30 apps, 9 goals
Champions League: 87 apps, 30 goals
UEFA Cup/Europa League: 42apps, 11 goals
Other: 7 appearances, 1 goal
Total: 710 appearances, 186 goals
LA GALAXY (2015-2016)
MLS appearances (including post-season): 36, 5 goals
Caps: 114, Goals: 21
‘I don’t think I need to explain to people what this 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 club.
‘Meeting with Alex Inglethorpe, seeing the work they are 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.’
This is an exciting time for Liverpool’s academy, with players such as Ben Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster emerging though the Kirkby system.
And Ingelthorpe believes Gerrard’s presence will prove inspirational for those who want to follow in his footsteps.
‘If I was to pick one individual who embodies the characteristics and values we are looking to instil at Kirkby it would be Steven Gerrard,’ he said.
He has been fulfilling media commitments with BT Sport in between visits to his former club
Gerrard officially announced his retirement from professional football in November
The 36-year-old has frequently been seen taking his seat in the Main Stand this season
860 – Combined appearances for Liverpool, the Los Angeles Galaxy and England.
212 – Total number of goals for clubs and country.
9 – Trophies won (all at Liverpool).
8 – Times selected in Premier League team of the season.
8 – Number of times Gerrard was sent off (seven for Liverpool, once for England).
2 – Man of the match awards in major finals (Champions League 2005, FA Cup 2006).
‘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 call center solution 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.’
Gerrard lifting the Champions League with Liverpool after a famous night in Istanbul in 2005
Gerrard gives fans the thumbs up after his final game but he has now officially returned