Steven Gerrard has revealed that Liverpool had to move “pretty quick” to keep him as a youngster amid apparent interest from a major London club.
In an interview with former Reds team-mate Peter Crouch on Amazon Prime Video Sport, the 39-year-old Huyton native spoke of how he was approached by then-Tottenham chairman Alan Sugar following a standout performance against Spurs in a youth match in which Crouch lined out for the London-based outfit.
Gerrard revealed that Sugar pulled him aside after the game to have a conversation, perhaps to try and entice him to swap Merseyside for the capital, but Liverpool then moved swiftly to amend the then-teenager’s contract, with the current Rangers manager telling Crouch: “Liverpool moved pretty quick after that game to try and offer me a different type of contract.” [via Amazon Prime Video Sport]
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) April 7, 2020
Gerrard’s revelation highlights how close Liverpool may have been to losing a talented youngster who, as mentioned in the Amazon Prime interview, made his first team debut for the Reds in 1998 shortly after that youth match against Tottenham. Although the Anfield club had endured a slump in the 1990s after two trophy-laden decades, they had championed the promotion of academy talent such as Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen into the first team, so at least Gerrard may have seen a discernible pathway from the youth ranks to the senior setup.
He would, of course, go on to be regarded as one of Liverpool’s greatest-ever players, making 710 appearances across 17 seasons in the first team and captaining the Reds to glory in the 2005 Champions League and 2006 FA Cup, with memorable displays in both finals. In the wake of strong interest from Chelsea in the mid-2000s, he opted to instead remain with his boyhood club despite the wealthy Londoners being Premier League champions at the time (as per BBC).
Gerrard’s interventions in games such as the Champions League clash against Olympiakos in 2004, that season’s final against AC Milan, the FA Cup triumph over West Ham in 2006 and his hat-trick against Everton in 2012 have gone down in Liverpool folklore and may never have happened if he had gone to Tottenham in his youth. That possible sliding doors moment in 1998 prompted Liverpool into action by changing his contract, a decision which would subsequently proved inspired.
Liverpool fans, what do you make of Gerrard’s revelation about that youth match against Tottenham in 1998? How differently do you think the Reds’ fortunes in the 2000s would have worked out had he left Merseyside for London? Comment below with your views!