On the 29th November 1998, Steven Gerrard made the first appearance of his career.
Gerrard's first game in his professional career came 15 years ago today when he came on as a last minute substitute for Vegard Heggem. Little did the Liverpool faithful know then how much of an important player Gerrard would become for them throughout his career.
He went on to make 13 appearances in the 1998/99 season, filling in for the injured captain, Jamie Redknapp. Gerrard was tried out on the right wing in some of his first few appearances for the club, but he later admitted that he was never comfortable in that position. In the following season he would go on to be a regular in the side. He scored his first goal that season, against Sheffield Wednesday and he also picked up his first red card in the derby match with Everton.
Since making his debut 'Stevie G' has gone on to make 643 appearances for his beloved club, scoring 161 goals in that time. He is just as instrumental now as he ever was for the club. In his time he has won 11 trophies with the club including one Champions League and two FA Cups. However the Premier League still eludes him, but this year could represent one of Liverpool's best chances to claim the league title in recent years.
His 643 club appearance currently ranks him at 7th in the all time list of most appearances for Liverpool. His 161 goals also rank him in 7th in the goalscoring statistics for the club. Very impressive for a midfielder, and many of those goals have been long-range piledrivers that Gerrard has become synonymous with.
Steven has been a great leader for Liverpool, captaining them to success in the famous Champions League final in 2005 too. When Liverpool were 3-0 they came back to take the match to penalties and win; one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
Gerrard has often brought Liverpool from the brink of defeat back into a game with a cracking goal. His passion and love for the club is clear for all to see from his performances on the pitch. Who can forget the 2006 FA Cup final, when he scored in the last minute of the game against West Ham United to take the tie into extra time. Liverpool went on to win on penalties and that tie is now known by many as "The Gerrard final".
He has also been a great servant to his country. He has been captain on a permanent basis since Roy took over, and will lead his nation into a World Cup for the second time next summer. He has 108 England caps, but there have been hints from Brendan Rodgers that he may retire from international football after the World Cup.
Gerrard is a great player to watch, and epitomises the determination and love for the game that many don't show these days. Liverpool have been very lucky to have Gerrard and Jamie Carragher spend their whole careers at the club, as it is uncommon to see one-club players in this era.
image: © ruairadhG