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21st Oct 2016

Steven Gerrard admits being Liverpool captain could be “sad and lonely”

"If you can’t handle those days mentally, don’t take the job"

Rob Burnett

Steven Gerrard has given a unique insight into what it takes to captain one of the world’s biggest football clubs.

The former Reds star – who captained the side for a remarkable 12 years – opened up about the job in a new book entitled Liverpool Captains, by Norwegian author Ragnhild Lund Ansnes who interviewed 16 skippers to see how the role has changed.

Gerrard, who left Liverpool in 2015 for LA Galaxy, said a big part of having the armband is coping with the ups and downs – and the criticism that inevitably comes your way.

“You need to be thick-skinned to be captain,” he said.

“Before you accept the responsibility of being captain for Liverpool Football Club you’ve got to tell yourself: ‘There will be good days and bad days.’

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Steven Gerrard of Liverpool applauds the fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at Britannia Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)Gerrard plays for Liverpool for the last time at Stoke (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

“On good days you’ll feel on top of the world. On bad days you’ll feel sad and lonely. If you can’t handle the low days, when the s*** hits the fan and everyone’s out to get you, if you can’t handle those days mentally, don’t take the job.

“Every single day, even when I wasn’t playing badly, I felt that pressure. But I loved it, even on bad days. When we’d had a bad game or if I’d played badly, I used to tell myself: ‘I’m the captain. I need to put this right, and I’ll have another chance to do that in three or four days.’

“I dreamed about wearing the captain’s armband from when I was about 10. So when I got it, I wanted to enjoy it, even on bad days.”

Gerrard also revealed how ex-Reds midfielder Jamie Redknapp helped him as a young player.

27 Oct 2001: Jamie Redknapp of Liverpool celebrates his goal with team mate Steven Gerrard during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Charlton Athletic and Liverpool at the Valley in London. Liverpool won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /AllsportImage: Ben Radford /Allsport

“Redknapp was my hero. I love him as a guy and I loved him as a player. He went out of his way to help me,” Gerrard said.

“I was 16 and an apprentice on £47 a week. And he was a national star who played for England and LFC and was vice-captain under Paul Ince.

“Every day he’d call me over and check on me if I was all right, if I had the football boots and the equipment that I needed. And he’d tell me where he was off to after training and ask me to join him. He didn’t have to do that.

“When someone behaves like that to you at 16, it does something important to you. So when I was 26 and I was captain, I’d treat younger players the way Jamie had.”

Elsewhere in the book Phil Thompson reveals how much it hurt when he lost the captaincy to Graeme Souness in 1982.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 13: The victorious Liverpool team pose after their 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur to win the 1982 Milk Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on March 13, 1982 in London, England, back row from left to right, Kenny Dalglish, Mark Lawrenson, Sammy Lee, Ian Rush, Bruce Grobbelaar, Alan Hansen, Terry McDermott and Phil Thompson, front row, Ronnie Whelan, David Johnson, Graeme Souness, Alan Kennedy and Phil Neal. (Photo by Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images)Phil Thompson and Graeme Souness went on to enjoy a great career together (Photo by Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images)

“I improved my game overnight to show Bob Paisley he’d made a mistake giving Souness the captaincy,” he said.

“In fact this was leadership at its best. Making tough decisions for the best of the collective and the club. And you know what, when I had time to think about it, I realised he was right.”
In the latest GAA Hour, we talk to Ken McGrath of Waterford and with Declan Brennan about a new club players’ association. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes.

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