Saturday, May 30 2015. Steven Gerrard’s birthday. The stage – Wembley Stadium.
Ten minutes before kick-off and all is quiet inside the dressing room. Brendan Rodgers is not a man for shouting and ranting.
“Ahh, Mario. Come on. Put that firework down or Rickie will start ahead of you.”
One man sits with headphones on. A man who could probably be the most focused in all of London. A man so calm, so cool, he makes a snowman look like a puddle. Well, beside him sits Steven Gerrard, a bag of nerves. Nothing to do with the game. Two days earlier he left his iPhone in Warsaw and couldn’t find out how many of the lads saw his Snapchat. ’11/1 back in Jan lol.’
Warsaw was the host city for the Europa League Final. Early in 2015, Liverpool were 11/1 to lift Europe’s consolation prize for the first time since 2001. Now 2001 is a year well known to all Liverpool fans who [strange fact time] all majored in Ancient History in university. A young Stevie Gee nicked a goal in the final as the Pool went on to win a treble, finish third in the league and even beat Bayern in the Super Cup. Books were written and videos were made, and now 14 years later fans were hoping for something new to go on and on about.
[Cue the clichéd flashback music…]
Our story starts on May 27, 2015. The day of the Europa League Final started out like any other day. There was great weather out with a good few degrees around the place, so Brendan was down at Costa del Warsaw topping up his tan.
“A euro a minute? Sure you’d be mad not to.”
Then came the pre-match press conference attended by Golden Rodgers and Stevie Gee. The questions didn’t go well, with many accusing the manager of being lucky to be in two finals this season, especially after a horrendous league campaign where they finished below Swansea.
“C’mere to me”, Brendan said in his angelic, peaceful voice. “There’s a shop around the corner that sells grips. You’d want to get one. We’ll win tonight, we’ll win well and you can send me those apologies by card tomorrow.”
83 minutes in. Liverpool are losing 2-0
Steven Gerrard puts the ball down and swings in a corner. A beautiful, bald and sweat glistened head meets the flight of it, and the ball nestles in the net. Skrtel wheels away delighted and Rodgers looked slightly less pale again.
Anyways, Balotelli ends up levelling in injury time and sends the match to extra time. Rodgers has completely lost it so Colin Pascoe steps up to the plate and delivers a magical rendition of Al Pacino’s inch by inch speech. 118 minutes played and Liverpool get a free kick right outside the ‘D’. It’s Gerrard time, bitches. His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater already. Flippin’ half-time Jaffa Cakes.
“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment… Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
He slipped and Liverpool lost 5-4 on penalties to Inter Milan. Ahh, well.
But never fear, the ever-optimistic Pool fans would not let this dampen their mood. Who wants to win the Europa League anyways?
“The next final lads, we’ll get the next one. THIS time it’s our turn…” they said ahead of the 2015 FA Cup Final against Arsenal. Classic Liverpool fans.
Fast forward and it’s half time. The weather is grand out but you’d want a bit of sun tan lotion on you, I’d say. Arsenal are ahead, 1-0. Dat Guy Welbz acting like a fox in the box and heading home from a Cazorla corner.
GERRARD: “Alright lads, listen… I was watching this documentary last night about a hockey team, and I think I know how we could beat them… It’s called the flying V.”
RODGERS: “Stevie at this stage, I’ve even thrown money on myself to get the sack.”
GERRARD: “Gaffer, I’m serious. We don’t need your manscaping jokes right now.”
Coutinho sets up Sturridge early in the second half and Sturridge slots it away neatly. That’s 1-0 for all you mathematicians out there. But wait for it lads. It’s actually happening. Steven Gerrard’s birthday, 1-1 in the FA Cup final, a dismal season, and Slippy Gee suddenly finds a little extra in the tank. (What? It’s a story, so whip out the popcorn and get ready!)
Mignolet sips a bit of water. Dropped again but sure at least it’s a decent game to watch. Jones lays it off to Gerrard who carries it forward, the V spear-headed by Sturridge, with Ballotelli and Coutinho in behind. Gerrard flicks it over to Sterling who, in fairness to the lad, has the moves like Jagger, and he rounds Ozil like he wasn’t there. Actually it was Wilshere, so Ozil really wasn’t there. Ballotelli plays a quick one two with Coutinho and is suddenly one on one with Ospina. (Szczesny was injured, dropped or caught smoking again… look stick with the story and stop asking questions. Predicting the future is a tough business!) Balotelli lines up the shot… but fakes it! Are you for serious like?! He dinks the ball over the penalty spot, across to the on-rushing Liverpool player.
“I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord”
As the Liverpool player dives to reach the ball, the world slows down. His life plays before his eyes, Phil Collins on soundtrack duty… Getting his first Everton jersey, Istanbul, that slip, and cheese. Oh Lordy that cheese! (His favourite cheese is melted – that is some call isn’t it?) But unfortunately, all stories must come to a close, and here’s how this one ends.
His right boot just manages to reach the ball, but it is with the tiniest mis-kick and the ball bobbles along the grass. Painstakingly slow, lads, painstakingly slow. But long story short, it crosses the line.
Yes it’s Gerrard. Who did you think it would be?
2-1 and in what must be a fairytale-esque ending to his Liverpool career, Gerrard lifts the FA Cup aloft and the crowd goes wild…. But back to the present day… now that I’ve predicted the future, I suppose you’ll be wanting some odds. You’re never happy are you? Ok grab these statisticals:
- Gerrard to be top scorer for Liverpool in the league – 9/4
- Number of goals for Gerrard in the league: Under 10.5 – 4/9. Over 10.5 – 11/8
- Liverpool to win the FA Cup – 6/1
- Liverpool to win the Europa League – 11/1
- Liverpool to win Europa League and FA Cup – 40/1
- Gerrard to join Liverpool on loan next season – evens