Steven Gerrard MBE
Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson
Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Steven Gerrard MBE for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
"You have to consider three qualities with Gerrard. First, he is a world-class player, a big game player who has a sense of occasion. Second, he is a team player, a player who employs his technique to the greater efficiency of the team rather than to be a showman. Thirdly, he is a player and a man you can trust. That is why I made him my captain and that is why he would make such a good England captain."
This glowing tribute came earlier this year from Gerard Houllier, Liverpool's former manager (and Fellow of LJMU) who had the opportunity to see Steve Gerrard's emergence as a player first hand. His experience has clearly left him not only highly impressed but also proud of the part he played in Steve's development into a world-class player.
Steven Gerrard emphatically elevated himself to world-class level in the famous Champion's League Final in Istanbul in 2005 when, inspired by his heroics, Liverpool came back to beat AC Milan after going in at half-time 3-0 down.
Henry Winter of the Telegraph neatly describes his impact in that game: "Making light of those goals from Paolo Maldini and a brace from Hernan Crespo, Gerrard tore into the Italians from the first whistle of the second half, scoring, creating the space for Vladimir Smicer to add a second and then winning the penalty for Xabi Alonso to eventually drive Liverpool level. It was Gerrard's determination, his refusal to countenance defeat even when it rose like a giant shadow, that kept his team alive, propelling them into the additional half-hour. "This was football from the Gods, all guts and glory, bringing the faithful hordes to their feet."
Liverpool won the penalty shoot-out.
Steven Gerrard was born in May 1980 on the Bluebell Estate in Whiston and first played for Whiston Juniors.
His Uncle Les did his best to make Steve an Evertonian but his dad, a Kopite through and through, was greatly relieved when he joined Liverpool Academy at the age of 8.
St Mick's Primary school held 'limited appeal', and Steve remembers sitting in class "longing for playtime because there was always a 'dead competitive' match on in the playground".
Next he went to Cardinal Heenan High School because it had a good reputation for football and it made him eligible to represent Liverpool Boys. In his acclaimed autobiography, Steve pays tribute to Eric Chadwick, his PE teacher at Cardinal Heenan. Eric remembers him well, noting that not only was Steve an outstanding footballer, he was never beaten at short tennis, and would always turn out for the school when they needed a javelin thrower or a runner. Eric also recalls with pleasure the time he nut-megged his protégé - but Steve was only 13 at the time.
Steve signed his first professional contract with Liverpool in 1997, and made his debut as a sub against Blackburn in ' 98. His first goal was scored the next year against Sheffield Wednesday. He was made captain in the 2003-4 season. He played his first senior game for England under Kevin Keegan in 2000, and adapted quickly to international football, scoring his first goal in the memorable 5-1 destruction of Germany in 2001.
Since then, he has played in two European Championships and the 2006 World Cup.
He has played a pivotal role in swelling the Liverpool trophy cabinet as follows: European Super Cup, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup in 2001, the League Cup in 2003, the FA Cup in 2006 against West Ham, scoring 2 goals in the Final, the European Super Cup in 2006, and the jewel in the crown, an unlikely Champion's League trophy in 2005.
His achievements on the field have led to many accolades off it: PFA Young Player of the Year in 2001, PFA Player of the Year in 2006 - the first Liverpool player since John Barnes to win this award, European midfielder of the Year, Premier League MVP twice, UEFA MVP in 2005, Nationwide England Player of the Year in 2007, Freeman of the Borough of Knowsley in 2006 and he was awarded an MBE in the 2007 New Year's Honours List for services to sport
As for the future, many hope that he will stay with Liverpool for the rest of his career, or at least until the two accolades that have eluded him are achieved: the Premiership title, and a "well done" from Rafa.
Houllier's view is that Liverpool should win the premiership title but they won't win it without Steven Gerrard.
In the longer term, many people, including Houllier, believe that he has the qualities to make an excellent manager of Liverpool FC.
Away from football, Steve enjoys golf but first and foremost he is a family man. He is happily married to Alex Curran, who is here today. They have two daughters, Lilly-Ella and Lexie.
We honour Steven Gerrard for the qualities he has demonstrated as one of the world's top players: not only the technical and tactical awareness he displays, but tellingly, the personal qualities he demonstrates: great commitment, dedication, an ability to rise to the occasion, a never-say-die attitude, always putting the team first, and prioritising responsibility before glory.
Steven Gerrard is a great ambassador not only for Liverpool but also for British Football - he is the epitome of all that is good about British football, and we are delighted to acknowledge his outstanding achievements so far.
Thus I have pleasure in presenting Steven Gerrard, this most distinguished son of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.