LONDON • One year on from announcing his decision to leave Liverpool for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Steven Gerrard has reached the stage of his life when a change of direction looms.
Coaching and, eventually, management is the route he plans to take. But his vision brings with it a tinge of regret that the groundwork did not begin long before his playing days were over.
There is a nagging frustration, the kind that comes only with hindsight, that he had neither the inclination nor the guidance to take his coaching badges earlier.
It is a situation he cannot change for himself but which he is trying to change for others.
"I have regrets now that I didn't start my coaching badges at 21 or 22," he admits.
EXPERIENCE IS AN ASSET
With the likes of Carra and other ex-players like Robbie (Fowler)... They have too much to offer to just be let go.
STEVEN GERRARD, urging clubs not to waste veterans' experience
"All that time I have wasted in hotels being an England player in the afternoon when I have been bored. I wish I had done my C, B and A badges, so I would be doing my Pro Licence now.
"I had a meeting with the FA (English football association) and said these players that are earning a certain amount of caps, 'Don't let them go away from the game, do more to keep them involved.'
"Put these coaching badges on offer at a younger age. Have the coaching badges available in the afternoons. So that when they finish their careers, they are ready to become coaches straightaway."
Gerrard has few causes for disappointment. Liverpool have reiterated their desire for him to return to the club in an as-yet unspecified role, a second season with the Galaxy beckons and a stint as a pundit for BT Sport is continuing.
The advice he received in his early 20s from Gerard Houllier, then the Liverpool manager, that he would be able to buy a nightclub if he stayed out of them during his playing career, was heeded.
At 35, Gerrard's life, professionally and personally, is as successful as he could have wished for.
But the brain drain that concerns him at international level applies just as much to his former club. In successive summers, Liverpool allowed Jamie Carragher and Gerrard to depart, with their experience becoming an asset to others.
While Gerrard insists there are no recriminations on his behalf, there is a definite sense that what he and others have to offer should be embraced more.
"There is no regret, anger or bitterness. But I had the same feelings when Carra left, a player who has played that many times.
"With the likes of Carra and other ex-players like Robbie (Fowler), keep them about. Find roles for them. They have too much to offer to just be let go," he added.
"A lot of clubs don't let it happen. You see that at Manchester United with Ryan Giggs and at Barcelona with Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola. They say when you finish here, this is what happens next."
In the short term, Gerrard's immediate task is to resume the challenge of being as successful as he can as a player. That means returning to Major League Soccer (MLS) this month to begin pre-season training with the Galaxy. He expects the coming season to be his final one as a player.
However, he admitted that the prospect of retirement scares him "a bit". Had things been different, he would have liked to have seen out his playing days at Anfield, but the one-year extension he was offered was not accompanied by any future planning from Liverpool.
"If there was a plan of being a squad player, then moving into a shadowing role or a transition to the staff, that would have been a bigger carrot," he said.
When the next MLS season ends, Gerrard will be available for work like any other former professional, looking to take his first steps in coaching at whoever is willing to give him an opportunity.
"I have had a chat with Juergen Klopp," he says. "I haven't had an offer, but the club have let me know they are keen for me to come back but there hasn't been a conversation where they have said, 'We want you to do this, we want you to do that.'
"Basically, when I am back home, I am going to carry on with my punditry work and, if nothing happens between now and then, I am going to try and move around clubs and gain more experience, going to watch managers and try and learn more. I am basically available from November."
THE TIMES, LONDON