Saturday, December 24, 2011

Steven Gerrard

Steven George Gerrard MBE (born 30 May 1980 in Whiston, Merseyside, England) is an English footballer who plays for and captains Premier League club Liverpool. He also has 89 caps for the England national team. He has played much of his career in a centre midfielder role, but he has also been used as a second striker and right winger. Gerrard is best known for his tremendous long-range striking ability and has scored in numerous cup finals, including the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2006 FA Cup Final.

Gerrard, who has spent his entire career at Anfield, made his début in 1998 and cemented his place in the first team in the 2000–01 season, succeeding Sami Hyypiä as Liverpool team captain in 2003. His honours include two FA Cup wins, two League Cup wins, a UEFA Cup win, and a UEFA Champions League win in 2005. In 2005, Gerrard came third in the voting for Ballon d'Or, given to the top player in Europe.

Gerrard made his international debut in 2000 and has represented England at Euro 2000 and Euro 2004, as well as the 2006 World Cup, where he was the team's top goalscorer with two goals. Gerrard is the current vice-captain of the England national football team. However, he captained his country at the 2010 World Cup in the absence of regular captain Rio Ferdinand who missed the tournament through injury.

Gerrard is widely regarded as one of the greatest English footballers ever. Gerrard came second only to Kenny Dalglish in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop, a Liverpool F.C. fan poll. Zinedine Zidane said in 2009 that he considers Gerrard one of the best footballers in the world. In 2010, The Guardian named Gerrard to their World XI team, which compiled the greatest footballers of all-time onto one squad.

Early Years
Born in Whiston, Merseyside, Gerrard started out playing for hometown team Whiston Juniors, where he was noticed by Liverpool scouts. He joined the Reds' youth academy at the age of nine. Gerrard then had trials with various clubs at fourteen, but his success wasn't immediate—Gerrard never made it into the England Schoolboys team. Gerrard's trials included Manchester United, which he claimed in his 2006 autobiography was "to pressure Liverpool into giving me a YTS contract." He signed his first professional contract with Liverpool on 5 November 1997.

Personal Life
Gerrard and his wife, fashion journalist Alex Curran, married at the Cliveden mansion in Buckinghamshire on 16 June 2007. He has an older brother, Paul (not to be confused with former Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard), and his cousin Anthony plays for Cardiff. Steven and Alex have three daughters, Lilly-Ella (born 23 February 2004), Lexie (9 May 2006) and Lourdes (born 2 November 2011).

In September 2006, Gerrard published his autobiography, Gerrard: My Autobiography, ghost-written by journalist Henry Winter, which went on to win the Sports Book of the Year honour at the British Book Awards.

The autobiography ends with "I play for Jon-Paul." Gerrard's cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was killed in the 1989 Hillsborough Tragedy, when Gerrard was eight. Jon-Paul, who was 10 when he died, was the youngest of the 96 victims of the tragedy."It was difficult knowing one of your cousins had lost his life," Gerrard said. "Seeing his family's reaction drove me on to become the player I am today."

On 1 October 2007, Gerrard was involved in a low-speed accident in Southport when the car he was driving hit a ten-year-old cyclist, who had shot into the street and inadvertently cut off Gerrard's path. He later visited the boy in the hospital and presented him with a pair of boots signed by Wayne Rooney, the boy's favourite player, after which he stayed to sign autographs for other young patients.

Councillors of Knowsley voted to make Gerrard a Freeman of the Borough on 13 December 2007, and two weeks later, he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by The Queen in The Queen's New Year Honours List, for services to sport. He received an honorary fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University on 26 July 2008 as recognition for his contribution to sport.

On 29 December 2008, Gerrard was taken into custody outside the Lounge Inn in Southport on suspicion of a section 20 assault. He and two others were later charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray, relating to an incident which left the bar's disc jockey with a broken tooth and cuts to his forehead. The three men were given police to court bail and were required to appear at North Sefton Magistrates' Court on 23 January 2009, where they all pleaded not guilty. The case was adjourned until 20 March when the assault charge was dropped but Gerrard was required to attend Liverpool Crown Court to face trial for affray. On 3 April, Gerrard pleaded not guilty.

The case went to trial in Liverpool Crown Court. Gerrard's co-defendants pleaded guilty before the trial but Gerrard maintained his innocence. Gerrard admitted hitting Marcus McGee but claimed it was in self defence and on July 24, Gerrard was found not guilty by the jury. Following the verdict, Gerrard said he was looking forward to getting back to playing football and putting the experience behind him.

In 2011 Gerrard appeared in the film Will.

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