Steven Gerrard retires: 5 of his greatest moments for Liverpool and England

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with the trophy after winning the Carling Cup Final.
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with the trophy after winning the Carling Cup Final.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard announced his retirement from professional football on Thursday at the age of 36, calling time on an emblematic career.

Gerrard spent 17 years at his hometown club Liverpool, 12 as captain, and won nine honours including the 2005 Champions League and the 2006 FA Cup, before finishing his career with an 18-month stint at Los Angeles Galaxy.

Here are five of his greatest highlights:

1. MIRACLE IN ISTANBUL

Faced with the prospect of a humiliating defeat after falling 3-0 behind at half time against an inspired AC Milan, Liverpool overcame extraordinary odds to win their first European Cup for 21 years thanks to Gerrard, whose never-say-die efforts at Istanbul's Ataturk Stadium on May 25, 2005, ensured he would forever be regarded as an Anfield icon.

In the signature moment of Gerrard's storied career, the midfielder - who admitted he was certain Liverpool would lose the match during the half-time break- helped orchestrate a comeback for the ages.

 
 

He reduced the deficit to 1-3 with a header, before winning the penalty that led to Xabi Alonso's equaliser as Rafael Benitez's side scored three times in six incredible minutes.

The Reds completed their astonishing triumph in a penalty shoot-out, leaving Gerrard to experience "the best moment of my life" as he lifted the trophy.

2. FA CUP HEROICS

Just 12 months after his heroics in Istanbul, Gerrard added to his growing legend by almost single-handedly winning another piece of silverware for Liverpool, in a final destined to be remembered for his majestic contribution.

Trailing 0-2 to West Ham after a woeful start at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Liverpool were dragged back into the match on the strength of Gerrard's talent and tenacity. He set up striker Djibril Cisse to reduce the deficit before equalising himself, only for the Hammers to regain the lead.

The Reds were seconds away from defeat when Gerrard struck again with a blistering long-range drive to force extra-time. Liverpool went on to win in a penalty shoot-out that inevitably featured a successful spot-kick from the captain.

3. GREEK TRAGEDY AVERTED

When Rivaldo gave Greece's Olympiakos a shock 1-0 first-half lead at Anfield in a decisive Champions League group-stage clash in 2004, it appeared Benitez's team were destined for a lacklustre exit as they needed to score three goals to advance to the next stage.

But Gerrard rose to the occasion with an unmatchable fervour that inspired an epic fightback. Goals from Florent Sinama Pongolle and Neil Mellor had put Liverpool within a solitary strike of progressing to the knockout stages, setting the stage for Gerrard to fire home with a sweetly-struck shot from just outside the penalty area in the 86th minute.

It was a moment destined to go into Anfield folklore as Liverpool went on to become European champions for a fifth time that season.

4. DERBY DELIGHT

Entering the twilight of his career, Gerrard was struggling to silence the critics who claimed he was past his best. But the sight of Merseyside rivals Everton typically brought the best out of him and that was the case again at Anfield as he scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win that was just reward for a virtuoso performance.

It was the first hat-trick in a Merseyside derby since Ian Rush scored four in the Reds' 5-0 win at Goodison Park in 1982 and the first at Anfield since Fred Howe achieved the feat for Liverpool in 1935.

5. DEVILS' BANE

Although Gerrard never quite succeeded in knocking Manchester United off their perch as the Premier League's top dogs for much of his career, he did enjoy some notable individual successes against Liverpool's archrivals.

He scored nine goals against United and the pick of them came on a spring day at Anfield in 2001, when he lashed a superb long-range strike past Fabien Barthez to open the scoring in a 2-0 win that gave Liverpool their first home-and-away double league wins over their rivals in 22 years.