Liverpool have confirmed that Steven Gerrard will leave the club at the end of the current season, bringing an end to his 17-year partnership with the Anfield giants.
The 34-year-old veteran midfielder announced on the club’s official website on Friday, adding that it has “been the toughest decision of my life.”
“From now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I’ll be as fully committed to the team as I have been,” Gerrard told the club’s official website. “It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.
“I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool – that is something I could never contemplate.”
Gerrard said he was making the announcement now “so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future,” which has been widely debated for several months.
The ex-England skipper said his decision was “completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over”.
He thanked coach Brendan Rodgers, owners John Henry and Tom Werner, his team-mates and the staff.
To the fans Gerrard concluded: “My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters. It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”
Gerrard, a one-club footballer, made his senior debut in November 1998 and has amassed a total of 695 appearances so far in all competitions for the Merseyside outfit. He has won the Uefa Champions League, the Uefa Cup (now Europa League) and Uefa Super Cup, including three League Cup successes and two FA Cup winners’ medal.
He is the second highest-scoring midfielder in the history of the Premier League with 116 goals, including a brace in the 2-2 draw with Leicester on New Year’s Day.
Rodgers said: “It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool.
“This is an era where the word ‘legend’ is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn’t do him justice. From a personal point of view I will always have gratitude for the support he gave me, when I arrived here as manager.”