Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, Orlando City’s Brazilian playmaker Kaka and Thierry Henry are among the greats from the world of football to have paid tribute to Steven Gerrard after he made his final Liverpool appearance at Anfield. The talismanic captain bid an emotional farewell to the club where he has spent his entire career to date and made more than 700 first-team appearances. Steven Gerrard’s record – 185 goals in 709 appearances in midfield. It’s phenomenal.
Suarez, who left Anfield for Barcelona last summer, paid tribute to the departing captain, saying: “Thank you legend for all you made me live in Anfield and for all the joy you have given to the football world. Thank you my friend for everything. You are truly one of the greatest!”
Fellow former Reds forward Fernando Torres tweeted: “An absolute pleasure watching you playing and even more play alongside you.Thanks for everything captain. #ThanksStevie”
Current Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, who was unable to be present at Gerrard’s farewell due to injury, also took to Twitter to pay a personal tribute to his captain. “The greatest player to ever wear a Liverpool shirt,” he said. “Wish I was there to share his last moments and season with the club. “He’s taught me a lot about football on and off the field and made me feel welcome at the club on my first day when I was nervous and had no idea what to expect”. “As the saying goes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, but for me we already know what we’ll miss.”
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry said: “What a day for #StevieG. Last game for @LFC at Anfield. What a career he has had for the club. Great player and top man #legend.”
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli added: “Steven Gerrard #legend #respect #icon YNWA.”
Former AC Milan midfielder Kaka, who stood toe-to-toe with Gerrard in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, said: “There were 2 @uefachampionsleague finals against @stevengerrard, and a title for us each! Congratulations for your career at @liverpoolfc, see you soon in @mls.”
Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero, who enjoyed a similar career-spanning spell with one club, said: “A fitting tribute for a real pro and true legend! Good luck Stevie #Gerrard.”
Was an absolute pleasure to play alongside this legend,” former Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey said. “He’ll definitely be missed on these shores! Good luck in LA #legend.”
Fellow Merseysider and current QPR midfielder Joey Barton added: “Incredible send off for Stevie, thoroughly deserved. Will there ever be another who epitomises a club like he did? #Legend #SG8.”
Chelsea opponent Cesc Fabregas tweeted: “Going to miss playing against you @StevenGerrard goodluck on your new adventure. #respect”
John Arne Riise, once a Liverpool regular alongside the departing legend, opened his heart on his personal blog with a post titled “Thank you captain fantastic”. “Gerrard is not just a player. He is “THE” player, the best I have ever played with,” wrote the 34-year-old, who now plays in Cyprus. “He is the greatest Liverpool has ever had. I’m honoured that I can say I played seven years with the legend himself. I won Champions League with him, even though I think he won it for us.”
Thousands of words of praise packed social media, but simplicity proved powerful in one David Beckham word. “Loyalty…” he posted on Instagram.
Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic tweeted: Congratulations to Steven Gerrard on a fantastic career with Liverpool and in the Premier League. Best player ever in the PL for me! #legend.
Alan Shearer who was England captain when Gerrard broke into the team tweeted: There are good players and then there are great players. Good luck to #StevenGerrard, one of the great English players of our generation.
Former Norway defender Vegard Heggem, the player Steven Gerrard replaced to make his Liverpool debut in 1998, tweeted: “What a player. #ThanksStevie and good luck!”
Michael Owen, who scored in Gerrard’s debut against Blackburn, writes on sportlobster: “Although it must seem like the long goodbye for Liverpool fans, in the words of Eduardo Galeano, “history never really says goodbye. History says ‘See you later.”
Former Liverpool and Senegal player Salif Diao recalls: “I remember the first time he trained at Melwood he shouted at Paul Ince, at the time Ince was the main man (and captain), he did whatever he wanted, no one touched him, and Gerrard smashed into Paul Ince and shouted at him. We all thought this kid has got something!”
Former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger tweeted: I wish I could be there tonight! I know Stevie gets the farewell he deserves. YNWA.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports: “Steven has basically been the fan on the pitch. Every kid who grows up wants to be Steven Gerrard.”
Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon, talking to Sky Sports: “I grew up watching Steven Gerrard on Match of the Day. To play on the same pitch as him is some honour. It was great to be part of such a huge occasion.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: “Steven is a player and a person who is irreplaceable in terms of what he has given over his time here. The standards he has set have been second to none. We now go forward at the end of the season without him and try to find a way to improve. That’s our challenge.”
Crystal Palace: “Congratulations to Steven Gerrard on a wonderful career with @LFC. All the best for the future from all at @CPFC.”
Steven Gerrard speaking to Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker: “I wanted to say goodbye in a proper way – the only way I’d ever come back would be an emergency situation, but I hope I’m not needed come the winter.” On being a future manager: “You have to be good enough. This is a big club and can be brutal at times. I’m trying to go through the coaching badges and it’s a bridge I will cross in a couple of years.”
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew: “You have to admire the stadium as the emotion of the occasion wasn’t going to stop them from celebrating Stevie. That was a really nice moment and an honour to be here. Words don’t really conduct the feeling for Stevie across the country. Today we respect what he’s done for both Liverpool and England and I’m sure he’ll go on to better things in the USA and in coaching.”
Steve Gerrard, speaking to Match of the Day’s Gary Lineker: “It was very emotional – an unbelievable send off. I’m very proud looking back at the last 17 years, but me being who I am, I’m disappointed in the team performance. Palace were fantastic and spoiled the party if you like. I will never forget this day – it’s a day I’ve been dreading it, because I will miss it so much.”
Steven Gerrard to BBC Sport: “It was very emotional. I’m slightly disappointed with the team performance but credit to Crystal Palace. They spoilt the party. This is a day I will never ever forget. I’ve been in this city for a long time and it’s time for a little break. Hopefully I will be welcomed back one day.”
Steven Gerrard, speaking on the pitch after the match: “It felt very strange today. I’ve been dreading this moment because I’m going to miss it so much. I’ve loved every minute, and I’m devastated I’m never going to play in front of these supporters again. “It’s very difficult to pick one moment. The very first time I ran out in front of The Kop, I’ll never forget that. The first time I played for Liverpool was a dream come true. Everything after that was a bonus.”