When the assistant referee raised his electronic display board in the 78th minute… to indicate that the Liverpool number 8 was going to come off for their number 21, the events that came to be at Stamford Bridge was one of the most unexpected things that I have ever seen in my decade as a Kopite. What I, and surely most other Liverpool fans were expecting, was loud jeers and sarcastic taunts from the home fans to see off one of their most loathed competitors for the final time. But as Steven Gerrard walked toward the touchline, the reception that he got was absolutely mind-blowing. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected Stamford Bridge to applaud our captain off the pitch, but that is exactly what happened.
And not only did they just clap, the entire stadium managed to give him a standing ovation. The amount of noise that the entire ground generated to see off their rival player was truly extraordinary. The occasion was made even more memorable as Jose Mourinho, one of Steven Gerrard’s biggest fans, got in on the act too as he engaged himself in applauding a true genius off the pitch. This is exactly when you realize the kind of player that we had to ourselves for all these years. Not often do we see a scene where the entire footballing community gets together to applaud a player. And it’s even more rare to see an opposition player walking off to applause from the rival team’s fans at an away ground.
Steven Gerrard is one of those rare individuals whose excellence commands this kind of a reception from even our most ardent haters. These quick few moments that flashed by towards the end of our game at Stamford Bridge also made me realized exactly what kind of a rare gem that we had to ourselves for all these years. As the saying goes, you only realize what you have after you’ve lost it, and while that is not the case with us yet, we are at a point where we have realized that what we have to ourselves is going to be with us for only two more games.
This phase is turning out to be pretty hard for us Reds and why wouldn’t it be? There have been innumerable occasions where this one man has carried our club forward all by himself. The number of times he grabbed us a point when we were getting none, or got us all three when we were sharing the spoils, over a span of 17 years are surely impossible to list down. Well, what can you do? If summer has come, then winter shall too. If we have reaped the benefits of having a magician such as him in our team, then a time must come when he will have to part ways because the only constant in life is change, and things don’t last forever, but what shall always survive within us are the brilliant memories that this God amongst men has given us and the legacy that he has created for himself.