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60 mins with Steven Gerrard

LFChistory.net has been fortunate enough to gain exclusive access to LFC.tv's "60 minutes" interviews in text-format. These in-depth interviews are taped in LFC.tv's studios and are only on offer to LFC fans who have bought an e-season ticket. The fans can also participate by sending in their own questions.

LFChistory.net has transcribed LFC.tv's interview with our great captain Steven Gerrard, so our readers can enjoy reading a fascinating interview where Gerrard reveals more about his career than ever before.

How was it to grow up on the Bluebell estate?
People who know the Bluebell, it‘s a normal council estate. That‘s where me and my brother grew up. Everytime when we got the chance to play football when we were younger we were always out in the street kicking a ball about. We had a lot of friends and that‘s basically where it started for me. That‘s where I kicked my first football.

Every kid dreams about being a footballer. Did you honestly believe it would come true?
Obviously back in the early days, no, I never thought it would come true. I‘ve always had that dream. I love football and come from a football family. A lot of family are big Liverpool supporters, some unfortunately Everton supporters. I always watched football on the TV. I had a big interest in it. Every chance I got to get the ball out that‘s what I did. A lot of my friends were older than me cause I used to try to tag along with my brother‘s mates and joining in football matches with them. I think that‘s helped to become the player I am today. Getting knocked about when I was a kid and picking myself up and going again and learning a lot of things of players who were older than me. I‘ve got a brother who‘s three years older than me and he used to kick me about a lot, punch me about a lot as well so I think that helped me toughen me up a bit and getting me ready for the league we play in, as you know it‘s really physical and demanding.

Were you always the best in your class?
With schoolwork I wasn‘t, maybe I was one of the best football wise. Football was more important to me than school. I used to try my best at school because I thought that was important. I wasn‘t a naughty kid – but for me everything was about the play time and dinner time. Getting the ball out. I‘d be thinking during lessons where I was going to arrange a game after school and who I could get out to have a kick about with me.

Apart from P.E. what was your favourite subject at school?
I didn‘t mind any of them. I didn‘t use to hate any lesson really. I used to lose concentration and I‘d be more focused and concentrating on football rather than all the other lessons so that got me through them.

You grew up as a Liverpool fan but was there any pressure on supporting Everton?
Yes, there was slight pressure. My mom‘s brother is a big Everton fan and he had 2-3 season tickets when we were younger and he used to take me to a few of the Everton games and try to persuade me to be an Everton fan, but I always had my dad and my brother when I come home to make sure I had edged back towards Liverpool. When I was invited to have a trial at Liverpool I got my first Liverpool kit and I was going to the Centre of Excellence and being trained by the likes of Steve Heighway and the other coaches. I always knew it was going to be Liverpool.

How old were you when you were spotted?
I played amateur football about 7-years old I was. I was about 2-3 years out of my age group. My dad used to have the manager pestered to play me, to give me a go. I was on my dad‘s back that I needed to play football in my brother‘s team. Liverpool spotted me when I was about 7-8.

Who did you pretend to be as a kid while playing football?
Sometimes I was Rush, Beardsley, McMahon. As I got a bit older I wanted to be Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler and players like that.

So you‘re on the books at Liverpool.. did school work suffer for it?
No, never. Liverpool make sure you continue doing well at school and focusing on your education because a lot of kids who join the Centre of Excellence and the Academy they don‘t make it so it‘s important they‘ve got an education to fall back on. Luckily enough I made it.

Can you remember your first training session with Liverpool?
I can, yeah. I can remember going to the Vernon Sangster which is situated next to the stadium. It was about 20-30 kids and I can remember Michael Owen from that day, Jason Koumas, players like that. I remember all them boys from day one. I was 8 years of age. A long time ago, but I remember it like it was a couple of days ago... We used to have Dave Shannon in goal, me and Michael, Jason Koumas and another kid called Andy Moran. I think we were unbeaten for about a year in five-a-side.

How many of the group made it then?
Not many. Stephen Wright came a year later. He obviously made it. Michael‘s done well as you all know. Koumas is doing really well as well. Not many of the others made it actually. Out of 20-30 kids probably only 4-5 have played at top level.

Do you still keep in touch with many of people from back then?
Yeah, I still keep in touch with Michael. We‘re still good mates because of England and playing with him for so long at Liverpool. Stephen Wright, as well I keep in touch with. I was good friends with him all the way through the YTS days and early years when I was a professional so I keep in touch with most of them.

Is it true your career was almost cut short before it even started?
I had a few scares injury wise. I had an accident when I was playing on a rough back field – a lot of rubbish about and a lot of long grass. The ball went into one of the hedges and I tried to hack it out with my foot and kicked a garden fork which was very painful as you can imagine. Put me in hospital for a week and there was a scare I might lose my big toe. Thanks to Steve Heighway and the doctors at Liverpool Football Club they decided against the amputation of the big toe and try to get through it with treatment and luckily I came through it.

Did you do work experience at the club?
I did similar jobs when you are a YTS or an apprentice, like cleaning changing rooms, putting kit out, cleaning the first team‘s boots, pumping balls up. That type of stuff. I loved it. It was meant to be for only one week, but I got mine for two weeks. I asked Steve Heighway if I could come for two weeks and get an extra week off school. It was like being a professional for two weeks. I was only fourteen years of age and to get two weeks at Melwood playing football rather than doing school work was a good experience.

Whose boots did you clean?
I had a go at them all really. I wanted to touch them all. I wanted to clean them all. I was obviously cleaning boots of players I was looking up to and striving to be like. Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler, David James, Paul Ince, all them type of players who were in the first team while I was doing work experience. I was dreaming to be like them.

What about the influences on your career.. Did you dad play an important part?
My dad has been to 99% of my football matches from a kid up until now. He obviously paid for all my football gear back then and all my travel to and from training and games. He liaised with Steve Heighway and the coaches at the Academy to make sure that I got the right advice and I continued to concentrate on school. They‘ve all been probably the biggest influences on my career, the coaches at the Academy.

Stevie Heighway - what advice did he give you in the early days?
The biggest advice he told me was to keep learning and to keep enjoying football. He said if I ever got to the stage where you stop learning and didn‘t enjoy it, you won‘t get to where you want to be. He also looked after me and helped my family financially to make sure that I could get to these places for training, taxis and bus passes and petrol money, kit, boots. Steve always made sure the club looked after me which I will never forget to this day. They certainly helped me to get where I am now.

Michael Owen went to Lilleshall and you stayed behind.
It killed me to be honest. From the ages of 12-13 you start hearing about Lilleshall. You realise all the best players get picked to go there. So when Michael went and I didn‘t get in I was slightly jealous and upset. The only happy person at the time was Steve Heighway because he was wanting to keep me back at Liverpool to have two more years coaching with me instead of passing me out to the FA people. The knock back certainly made me stronger. To this day I‘d still would have liked to go to Lilleshall.

You struggled with injuries in your early days. Did you ever worry you were not going to make it as a professional?
Yeah, all the time. All through them injury experiences I used to fear not being able to fulfill what I wanted. At Liverpool you have the best physios and best doctors. They were telling me all the time 'Don‘t worry, don‘t worry. We‘ll get you over them.' The coaches were always positive with me, but as a player it‘s frustrating to miss training sessions and football matches. It‘s an absolute nightmare as a player. I think it was down to growing so quick. From 8-14 I was always the smallest in the class, the smallest in the team and the lightest. All of a sudden I hit six foot really quick. I think it was just my body and my muscles getting used to the growth spurt really.

You made your debut as s substitute against Blackburn. What do you remember from that day?
It all happened so quick. A couple of weeks before Gerard Houllier asked me and Stephen Wright to train with the first team for good and we moved to Melwood. It was all just unreal. Eventually we started travelling with the squad. There were a few injuries and suspensions from an European game. Paul Ince and Steve McManaman were sent off. That gave me my break. Blackburn, I was named as a sub and when I was told I was going on for the last couple of minutes it was possibly the best feeling I‘ve ever had.

How quickly did your life change after the debut?
It changed an awful lot. A lot of people around the city start noticing you. Obviously Liverpool got a massive following and you started to get asked for autographs. Your life as a footballer changes quite dramatic from your first 5-6 games. I had the right people around me. My family helped me keep my feet on the ground and at Liverpool Football Club the coaching staff and the people around the place are superb at keeping you humble, making sure you don‘t get too carried away.

How big an influence was Gerard Houllier on your life?
He was in control of my first 3-4 years in the first team just after Roy left. He was bit of a father figure to me. He took a big interest in me on and off the pitch. He made sure I was eating the right food and and I wasn‘t going out to nightclubs and bars. He helped me to remain focused on my football. To work with a coach of his quality at such a young age certainly brought me on as a player and improved me all the time. I‘ve had bollockings off Gerard. I‘ve had him in his office telling me what I was doing right and what I am doing wrong. That‘s what you need at that age. He was very strict, but also he gave me a pat on the back when I needed them as well. He‘s someone who I‘ve become very close with and got a close bond. I still to this day keep in touch with him and got an awful lot of respect for him.

On a lighter note Gerrard also reveals he wants to work hard at making baby number three, but Alex is having none of it at the moment (cue big smiles in the studio, not least from Gerrard himself), he has 5-6 televisions in his house and has been around a number of stars who have said 'Do you know who I am?', but has never said it himself and is not likely to.

Do you remember the first time you played Everton?
Yeah, I do. I‘ve always loved derbies, watching them. I‘ve been playing in them from the age of ten when they were just as physical and I wanted to win them just as much then. Now there is a lot more at stake and they are the fixtures I look forward to in the beginning of the season and I relish playing in them. In the early days I let nerves and the excitement get the better of me. By the time the game came round I was physically drained because I had been thinking about it too much and I wanted to win it so much, but nowadays I am a bit more relaxed and more focused on the job I have to do instead of worrying about winning or losing it. I‘ve been guilty of letting me and my teammates down a couple of times by getting sent off and it certainly doesn‘t help you getting the right result.

Made captain of Liverpool Football Club
I wasn‘t expecting the captaincy at all. I obviously dreamed of one day being the captain, but not at that age. I'm never going to be one of these big vocal captains shouting at people every two minutes. I think the important thing for me is to try and lead by example and be there for the other players to help them on and off the pitch. I love the responsibility. For a young lad from Liverpool to captain such this big club, I'm living a dream. I love it everytime I walk out. I‘ve been captain now for five years but I still get the same buzz as when I done it the first time.

How did Sami Hyypia take losing the captaincy?
Just typical Sami Hyypia, the ultimate professional. At the time I was slightly worried and concerned it might affect my relationship with Sami. I was maybe losing a good mate and a good teammate. He was brilliant with me. He shook my hand and said: 'You were always going to get it one day it might as well be now and if you ever need anyone for help or advice I‘m always here for you.' Sami has been world class for this club since the first day he walked in. He was certainly like that when he had to pass the armband to me.

Coming close twice to leaving Liverpool for Chelsea 
As a player you want to be successful and play in the best team that you want to play in. If this club is coming to a difficult time that offer is there makes it difficult because it makes you think. I‘ve got no regrets. I think I‘ve made the right decision staying at the club. Luckily enough for me I am now playing in a world class team with world class players with the chance of winning and achieving all my dreams here so I don‘t have to think about moving. Probably the most difficult time I‘ve had as a footballer getting the attention of the other clubs and Liverpool not achieving what we should be achieving. Looking back I am so happy and it goes through my mind all the time how happy I am I made the decision to stay.

Istanbul
The best game I‘ve ever played in for club and country by a million miles. The way the game happened and the way we come back. The excitement and also to lift the trophy above my head and the homecoming. Everything to do with that game is something that will live with me for the rest of my life. The proudest day I‘v ever had in a football shirt by a mile.

The 2005 semi-final vs Chelsea
The supporters took the atmosphere to a new level I‘ve never experienced. 45 minutes before the kick-off against Chelsea the stadium was rocking. Probably the best atmosphere I‘ve experienced at Anfield.

The future
I am only 27 and I feel I‘ve got many years left in Liverpool‘s first team. I want to keep the standards going because I set high standards for myself. I have my days when I am tired and not focused and maybe I come away thinking to myself maybe I didn‘t approach it well enough. But I‘ve still got a hunger and still get excited when I go out and play. I still think there‘s a lot more to fulfill and lot more trophies to win before I am happy.

Copyright - LFC.tv - transcription by LFChistory.net

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