Thank you Steven Gerrard, it won't be the same without you

One Champions League, One UEFA Cup, Two FA Cup, Three League Cups, 17 years and nearly 700 appearances. Thanks for the memories, Steven!

The day was always going to come eventually, the day when Steven Gerrard would leave Liverpool Football Club, but it's still a bit of a shock to system when reality hits home. 

I have been going to Liverpool games for pretty much the time Gerrard has been part of the Liverpool first team. He made his debut against Blackburn Rovers in a 2-0 win, whereas my first game was a couple of weeks earlier in a 3-1 defeat to Leeds United.

I saw him dance through Sheffield Wednesday's defence to score his first goal for the club, and it was just the first of many memorable moments to follow. Olympiakos, leading the fightback in Istanbul, his heroics against West Ham in Cardiff in 2006 led to him having the rare accolade of the FA Cup final being named after him. 

There are more of course. Many late winners, inspiring performances. There is one glaring omission from his glorious career in the form of a league title, something which he came so close to winning last season, and the circumstances surrounding that are well documented, but it shouldn't act as a blot on his copybook. He had a large part to play in Liverpool mounting that improbable challenge last term.

For those that know me, they probably feel I was Gerrard's fiercest critic but when you see a player at the peak of his powers growing up, you almost expect him to be like that for 90 minutes in every game - spectacular from every second. Of course that was me being unrealistic, and even when he wasn't at his best I suppose he was entitled to the odd off day given the amount of times he dragged Liverpool out of the mire. 

Looking back, I think he's played in near enough every position apart from a spell in goal - though that could come during the closing stages of the season, who knows?

There has been debate throughout his career over where he should play in the Liverpool side having played wide, off the front man, in a deeper role, and as a box-to-box central midfielder. I personally liked him in the advanced role, whilst his capabilities and contribution to the side from a wider position was poo-pooed a lot because he wasn't playing his favoured central role, but as a wide player I can't think of many, if any, that have been better during my time of going to Anfield.

As for now, is the time right for him to depart? Probably. If Liverpool had managed to win the league last season, I think he may have retired there and then with a prize that has eluded him for so long in his hands.

Some will now say his powers are fading, that square pegs are being put in round holes in order to accommodate him in the side whilst trying to get the best out of several of the playmakers within the squad.

There have been times when the Reds have looked a more balanced unit without him, but there are more questions that will follow. It's another big character leaving Liverpool, the biggest in many eyes. 

While some will argue that the announcement could be a big distraction for the Reds, it gives the opportunity for the fans to enjoy the talents of their hero from now until the end of the season. 

As much as I've said here, in reality, it's very difficult to put into words just how much of a contribution Gerrard has made to the club. I suppose the enormity of the figure that is Steven Gerrard will be truly felt when he eventually departs. All Liverpool fans should savour every cross-field pass [yes, even the ones that go into touch], every long range strike and cooly despatched penalty. We may never see another like him.

Good luck to anyone on the hunt for spare tickets for the final games of the season, because you are going to need it!

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