Stevie's school days
In a revealing insight into how Steven Gerrard went from a being a waif-like youth player to the influential captain of today, we hear from his former teachers and coaches about how he showed potential from an early age.
Take a look at the photographs below. On first glance they probably appear much like any other team line-up shots. Young lads still developing into grown men; potential yet to be realised.
But take a closer look (click on the images for a bigger version) and you'll see a star in the making - our very own Steven Gerrard, before the trophies, the captain's armband and the England caps.
Most people's earliest memories of Gerrard begin on November 14 1998, when he came on as a late substitute against Blackburn Rovers to make his Reds debut.
He won over the Anfield crowd with a meaty tackle near the Kop end towards the end of the 2-0 victory that day, but we've delved even further back to a time when our future captain was worrying more about the wrath of his teachers than that of Rafael Benitez.
"The thing I remember most about him was his ability as a leader on the field," said Gerrard's former teacher at Huyton and Roby Primary, Gillian Morgan, who also coached the future Liverpool captain in the school football team.
"I think he started playing for the school team when he was nine years old and even then Steven was always trying to help others.
"His dad always said he was born with a football at his feet and I still think that is true.
"Off the field he was very quiet and well behaved. I have met him a few times and appeared on his DVD, Steven Gerrard: My Story'.
"It was really nice when he came back to the school as part of that DVD - he even asked me about members of my family and I was surprised he remembered them from all those years ago."
When he was 11 years old Gerrard moved to Cardinal Heenan High School, where he began his ascent through into the Liverpool schoolboys ranks.
As his year head and coach of the school team, Steve Monoghan saw Stevie go from a slight school player to a star of the Liverpool schoolboys side and reveals how his refusal to admit when a game is lost began at a very early age.
"Anyone could see Steve was a talented player, but he was never one to flaunt his talent. He knew he had ability, but he never showed off," said Monoghan.
"Many youngsters with his talent would stop trying at lessons, but Stevie didn't and finished school with five GCSEs at grades A-C.
"But he was head and shoulders above the rest of the players in his school team.
"I remember one game where we were losing 3-0 to Blue Coat in the Merseyside Under-13 Cup final. We ended up coming back to win 4-3 with Stevie scoring two of the goals.
"I thought back to that match at half-time when we were losing by the same scoreline in the 2005 Champions League final. He inspired a similar fightback that day too and has done it a few times since then."
Echo sports writer Tim Johnson coached Gerrard while he was playing for the Liverpool Schools team and said: "I first became aware of Steven Gerrard in 1992 when the head of PE Eric Chadwick at his then school Cardinal Heenan High told me of a gifted 12-year-old footballer they had.
"I was to be the manager of the Liverpool Schools Under-14 team (pictured above) when Steven reached that age and I remembered the name and looked forward to having him as a member of the squad.
"But his talent could not be held back and the school nominated him for the city team 12 months earlier than expected.
"The most impressive feature of Steven's play at the time was his speed of thought.
"He could evaluate a situation and take advantage quicker than any schools footballer I had seen.
"The young Gerrard was also a very good tackler. Even when playing against bigger boys he had the courage to put his foot in and he obviously retains that today."
After that Gerrard continued his development and quickly joined up with the Under-15s schoolboy side.
Johnson also went on to coach that team, but admits that Gerrard went through a frustrating season that year.
"At first things went well for him and I can remember him scoring the winning goal against West Lancs in one of the earlier rounds of the English Trophy," added Johnson.
"But a series of injuries meant he failed to win an England Schoolboy Cap, the only level at which he has not received international recognition."
And despite being pursued by a host of Premier League clubs at the time, Steven signed for Liverpool shortly after the schoolboys team were knocked out of the Cup at the quarter-final stage.
"I have met him occasionally since those early days and he always has time to chat," said Johnson.
"It would have been impossible to forecast back then how far he would go in the game - I am delighted for him."
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