CONFIRMED: Steven Gerrard has a new job with Liverpool
The much-anticipated return of Steven Gerrard to Liverpool has been confirmed with the former England captain set to begin his coaching career with a wide-ranging role at the club's Academy.
Having rejected the opportunity to take charge of MK Dons in November, Gerrard will now take his first step towards a possible career in management by working full time with Liverpool's junior teams under the guidance of Academy director Alex Inglethorpe.
The move, which has the blessing of Jurgen Klopp, will see Gerrard being based at the Academy in Kirkby where he will work with Liverpool's most promising young players, a similar role to one he previously performed on a voluntary basis when working towards his coaching badges.
Despite the obvious potential for his return to Liverpool to be perceived as an emotional homecoming, Gerrard maintains that it is a desire to make a contribution which is the main motivation of his decision to accept a job at the club he served with such distinction as a player.
"It feels like completing the circle; returning to the place where professionally it all began. However, this isn't a decision based on emotion - it's about what I can offer and contribute to Liverpool,” Gerrard said.
"I don't think I need to explain to people what this football club means to me, but when I knew coming back was a serious option I wanted to make sure it was a substantive role and a role in which I could really help the organisation.
"Meeting with Alex Inglethorpe, seeing the work they are currently doing and want to do in the future at Kirkby, it just felt right. The right option at the right time, for all parties involved. This gives me a great opportunity to learn and develop as a coach, while at the same time offering my knowledge, ideas and experience to the young players at an important period of their development."
Gerrard's Liverpool playing career came to an end in May 2015 and his retirement was announced two months ago when he left LA Galaxy. Since then, the 36-year-old has been involved in talks with Liverpool's hierarchy aimed at defining a coaching role which would best suit him and the club.
One of the key considerations for both parties, as articulated by Klopp, was for Gerrard to be allowed to develop as a coach free of at least some of the scrutiny which inevitably attracts one of English football's most revered individuals.
“Steven Gerrard - 186 goals, each goal is a story. The first thing you should all learn is if someone wants to help Steven Gerrard, stop being so excited about each step he is doing next,” Klopp said in November. “For everything in your life you need room and space to jump in and learn something new. If he is retiring as a player the next thing he will do will be new.”
Inglethorpe admits that the enthusiasm shown by Gerrard, along with his stature at the club, makes him a natural fit at the Academy, particularly given his attachment to Liverpool which began when he joined their youth ranks at the age of nine.
“If I was to pick one individual who embodies the characteristics and values we are looking to instil into our organisation at Kirkby it would be Steven Gerrard,” Inglethorpe said.
“For him to have been so enthusiastic about being part of what we are looking to do is simply great news for everyone connected to the club.
"I don't think it would surprise anyone to know that Steven has had a host of great options, in terms of what to do next in his career, including playing, management and coaching. But it's been evident from the first meeting with him that his heart and head belongs here.
"He has shown great humility in making it clear from the outset he wants a role where he can contribute to Liverpool; it's typical of him that his priority has been defining the role so it helps the Club, ahead of himself.
“He has expressed a desire to learn from us and manage a young team. The benefits to us will be immense. This is a substantial role and one which makes the Academy and the club in general stronger and better."