Steven Gerrard’s message to the LFC squad for CL final
The last man to lift the European Cup for Liverpool has delivered a rallying cry to the players aiming to follow in his footsteps on Saturday night: “Go and seize the moment.”
Trailing 3-0 to AC Milan at half-time, Rafael Benitez’s side mounted a stunning comeback – kickstarted by the captain’s header – to level the score and then triumph in a penalty shootout.
The joy etched across Gerrard’s face when he collected the silverware mirrored the elation of Liverpool fans around the world, and that feeling lives on in the former midfielder.
So too does the despair of defeat, however. Two years later, he and his teammates were on the wrong end as Milan exacted revenge with a 2-1 win in the final in Athens.
Having experienced both sets of emotions, the Scouser urged the current squad to give everything they have in the pursuit of another historic European achievement.
“These players have an opportunity to not just change their careers but their lives in general. They are the moments that you dream of,” Gerrard explained to Liverpoolfc.com.
“My message to the players would be: go and grasp it, go and seize the moment you have worked so hard for. Go and reward yourselves for the journey you have taken this club on.”
He added: “You’ve got to go in with the belief and confidence; you have come this far. You’ve got to handle the responsibility of being a Liverpool player and you’ve got to go and deliver.
“You’ll get plaudits and praise forgetting where you are but not many people remember it if you don’t get over the line and deliver.
“I’m still really good friends with ex-teammates in that team that I played with and I know what it would mean for them. I just hope they go and do it.”
With a fourth-place Premier League finish – and qualification for next season’s Champions League – booked with a 4-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion, Jürgen Klopp took his team to Marbella for a training camp last week.
The squad returned to Merseyside on Saturday evening and will now navigate a crucial period of media duties, physical preparations and travel to Kiev.
“It’s important that they try to blank it out if they can,” said Gerrard of the expectations surrounding the build-up to the match against holders Real Madrid.
“It’s difficult but just make sure your preparation is spot-on, you get your sleep and the right food, and everything goes well. It’s tough, because of the magnitude of the game: it’s the biggest game you’ll play in as a Liverpool player.”
In his role as a television pundit – and, indeed, as a Liverpool supporter at heart – Gerrard has watched every kick of the club’s thrilling journey to the final of Europe’s elite competition.
It’s a path he trod with the Reds himself on those two aforementioned occasions, though the newly-appointed Rangers boss admits the manner of this adventure is much different.
Asked what has impressed him most about the run, Gerrard said: “The style they have done it in – the amount of goals they have scored, the quality of the goals, the movement.
“When we did it under Rafa, with all due respect some games we had to grind, a lot of games we had to suffer in and just get over the line.
“Our strength was mental strength, we never felt we were beaten and you had to work extremely hard to get anything out of us. This team still has the mental toughness but on the eye, they look superb.
“Everyone is thinking: ‘Liverpool deserve this’. They have looked the best, they have done it in style and, being a Liverpool fan, it has been brilliant to be part of.”