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Ten years at Liverpool - Gerrard's top fives

Kicking off Steven Gerrard week' on Liverpoolfc.tv as we celebrate the skipper's ten years of first team football at Anfield, Rafael Benitez writes exclusively for the club's official website about the special qualities of his midfield star.

In this modern footballing world, it's amazing to see one player stay at the same club for ten years.

Because there is so much pressure on managers and so much money being spent, you see teams changing their players all the time - but the fact Steven has stayed at Liverpool for so long says everything about the quality of the player and the mentality of the man.

Before I arrived at Liverpool I - along with all the other managers - knew of Gerrard. But it's not until you see him every day in every training session that you realise how good he is. I quickly discovered he was very good technically, very strong and someone who would give everything in every session. His commitment every time he steps onto the field is fantastic.

On the pitch there are so many memories which come to mind when you think of his performances over recent years. But for me, as my captain, it's his influence off the field on the other players which is just as important.

We will never forget his goals against Olympiacos, West Ham and in the final against AC Milan - but it's the way he leads by example which is perhaps most impressive.

A captain has to perform during games, while off the pitch he has to set a good example and push his teammates all the time. He has all these qualities and that's what makes him such a good captain for this team.

I think he is still getting better and am confident there is even more to come from him in the future. Over recent seasons he has improved tactically because he has played in a number of different positions and for me, at the moment, he is the best attacking midfield player in the world.

I know Jamie Carragher has said he wouldn't swap him for anybody else and I would have to agree with that. In terms of quality you can always change one player for another, but in terms of quality, mentality and commitment then I wouldn't swap Steven for anybody.

I know how determined he is - like the rest of us - to get his hands on the Premier League title and hopefully that dream will come true for all of us sooner rather than later.

Kicking off a week-long series of articles in which Steven Gerrard counts down his 'Favourite Fives', we ask the skipper to select his top five goals from his ten years at Liverpool.

Number 5
My first goal against Everton in 2001. I always love playing against Everton, scoring against them and beating them. I had many dreams as a young kid, one of which was to grow up and score against Everton. I just love the games and I think it's because there's such a strong fear of losing because of the stick we'll get. That really helps get me up for the game. My first goal against them - at Goodison as well - is one I'll never forget and had to be included in this list.

Number 4
Scoring in the UEFA Cup final against Alaves in Dortmund gave me the confidence that I could perform in the biggest matches. I was only young but I knew after that game that I could go on and score many more goals for Liverpool.

Number 3
At number 3 is my first goal in the 2006 FA Cup final against West Ham. It came at a good time for us and got us back on level terms after going a couple of goals behind. It meant our dream of winning the competition was still alive. 

Number 2
I'm going to go for my second goal in the FA Cup final against West Ham in 2006. It was really horrible in the final minutes of the game thinking that I would soon be watching the West Ham players dancing around Cardiff with winners medals. That's why my goal was so important - it gave us extra time and the chance to go on and win it for ourselves. We had worked so hard on the day on a massive pitch in Cardiff and I had nothing left in the final stages - it was more a hit and hope than anything, and fortunately it went in.
As a kid you always dream of playing in an FA Cup final. It doesn't matter who is involved, you always watch it on the television and so to get the chance to lead the side out in a final, to score and then win the Cup is an unbelievable experience.

Number 1
At number one has to be my header in the Champions League final. It may have only been a close range header, but in terms of getting us back into the match it was a massive goal.
I think that goal gave us the belief to go on and save the game. At half-time it looked like we could lose 5-0 or 6-0 because we had been totally dominated, but my goal gave the players and the fans belief that we could still come back. That's why it was so important and the rest, as they say, is history.

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STEVIE COUNTS DOWN HIS TOP 5 GAMES

I'm going to go for this season's derby triumph over Everton at Goodison Park. We controlled the game from start to finish, thoroughly deserved our victory, and could have won by more than two goals. It's always a great feeling to beat Everton and that's why this game - because we were so dominant - has to be in my list.

The 2001 FA Cup final when Michael Owen pulled it out of the bag for us when it looked as though we were going to lose. At one stage it looked like we'd have to settle for a runners-up medal because Arsenal had been the better side on the day and were deservedly ahead, but Michael was the hero and got us out of trouble with two bits of magic.

I have to include another FA Cup final - this time the victory over West Ham two years ago. To be honest I thought we'd win the game comfortably but they made life really difficult for us and in the end we had to settle for penalties. I know I scored the two goals and that it has been labelled the 'Gerrard final', but that's unfair on the rest of the team. I scored the goals and may have got the man of the match award on the day, but we did it together.

The 2001 UEFA Cup final win over Alaves is a game none of us will ever forget. Before the match I was really confident it would be very straightforward because, on paper at least, we were a lot stronger than they were. But that's football. It was a great game to play in and a great result in the end.

There's no other game I could select than the 2005 Champions League final. To be three goals down and come back to lift the trophy was amazing. I've seen the highlights many times since on the television and it's always brilliant to watch.

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STEVIE COUNTS DOWN HIS TOP 5 OPPONENTS

In the latest chapter of Steven Gerrard's 'Top 5' countdowns, we ask the skipper to select the toughest opponents he has faced during his ten years as a Liverpool player.

I have to include Xabi Alonso in this list because I play with him or against him every day in training and know how good he is. If Xabi is on his game and on form then he is unplayable. His range of passing is unbelievable and that makes him a really tough opponent.

Paul Scholes is always difficult to play against - not in the sense that he'll always be tackling you, but in that he's very clever with his movement and can play around you. You have to be right on top of your game to play against him. He has everything you need to be a top player and it's just unfortunate for him that he's had some injury problems of late.

atrick Vieira was always a really tough opponent when he was an Arsenal player and I'll never forget the FA Cup final of 2001 when he was on a different level to everyone else. He was outstanding and went into overdrive that day and that's why it was such a surprise we ended up winning, because Arsenal deserved it on the day.

I played against Roy Keane early in my career and he was the best around at that time. He was a really tough opponent. He was fitter and stronger than me at that time and the impact he had on Manchester United was a real eye-opener.

We've had some great battles against Chelsea over the years and I have often come up against Claude Makelele. He's always marked me closely and always done a decent job. He may be small, but he's strong and quick and a really difficult player to play against. He would be my number one choice.

....if we're talking about toughest opponents then I also have to give a mention to the entire Barcelona side. They are all good on the ball and all an absolute nightmare to play against. 

Copyright - liverpoolfc.tv

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