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27th Mar 2015

Gerrard: Maximus Decimus Meridius meets Frank Spencer

Nooruddean Choudry

If they ever made a film of Steven Gerrard’s life – and they most surely will – what type of movie would it be?

A sweeping epic? A rags-to-riches heart warmer? A slapstick comedy? A thriller? There are so many ways of looking at the soon-to-be ex-Liverpool skipper’s career that it defies pretty much any clear genre. He can be anything to anyone if you look hard enough. Except, of course, dull.

Liverpool fans will be largely unanimous in celebrating his time at Anfield as an outstanding testament to personal endeavour. For a club so defined by the hoarding of honours, Gerrard’s era has been a relatively barren. There has been no great side in which to showcase his talents. Instead he was left to forge his own success whilst his teammates carried water and basked in his reflective glory.

Still, two FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and one of the most dramatic Champions League triumphs of all-time isn’t too shabby. It’s a medal haul that most players can only dream of. Add that to the mountain of personal accolades and awards he has received, as well as the esteem in which he is held throughout the world and there is a clear picture of the celebrated hero.

Liverpool Celebrate Champions League Win With Victory Parade
But that’s not the whole story. Because of course Gerrard is defined just as much by his failures as his success. His career is strangely punctuated by so many dropped b*llocks that it almost begins to resemble habit. There can’t be another player of such talent and standing who has so regularly f*cked up in so many high-profile ways. If we didn’t know better it would stink of self-sabotage.

He is Maximus Decimus Meridius meets Frank Spencer. A needless and hideous back pass to Thierry Henry of all people during Euro 2004; a vital penalty miss at the 2006 World Cup; another needless and hideous back pass to Didier Drogba of all people in 2010; and the infamous slip against Chelsea last April, just a few days after stressing the need to avoid exactly that.

And then of course there was Sunday; his final game against the despised enemy. As if scripted by a particularly vindictive Clement and La Frenais, he came on and immediately took charge; spraying a lovely pass wide and clattering Juan Mata with a crunching tackle. He looked great, for less than a minute. The stamp on Ander Herrera had nothing to do with bad luck and everything to do with sheer idiocy.

No one would have been more angered than the player himself. He definitely cost his side the initiative, probably the game and possibly a Champions League place. That will sting not only because he loves Liverpool and detests United, but because he will soak in the blame like a sponge. His brow is permanently wrinkled for a reason; he is absolutely humourless about his own contribution.

Group B  England v Trinidad v Tobago - World Cup 2006
Almost every interview or word attributed to him is tinged with either worry or regret. He has a glass half-empty demeanour of both a driven winner and a deeply haunted loser. Whether it is this sense of imminent foreboding that somehow summons rotten luck or his feverish desire to personally affect success that leads to such mishaps, he is the type who will linger on the darkness rather than the light.

These eight days from Sunday to Sunday are a fitting metaphor for Gerrard’s career. This coming weekend will see Anfield host a well-earned celebration of their greatest son. The likes of Luis Suarez, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso will once again don Liverpool red in honour of their leader. Each of those names will be returning from successes abroad, whilst Gerrard will grimace a smile and think of only Herrera.

If Steven Gerrard was to direct his own film, it would be a gritty tragedy with a Phil Collins soundtrack. Each outtake will be a triumph and what remains will be scene after scene what-ifs and what-the-f*cks.