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Aldo: Jealousy was one reason why rival fans hated Gerrard

SoccerBy John Aldridge
Aldridge bemused by the abuse that came Gerrard's way during his career
Aldridge bemused by the abuse that came Gerrard's way during his career

Steven Gerrard has probably attracted as much animosity as any player in the modern game and there is a good reason for that – his rivals have appreciated what a damn good player he has been.

A section of the Stamford Bridge crowd gave Gerrard a standing ovation as he left the field in in one of his final games for Liverpool last year and it was evidence that true football people appreciate what this player has contributed to the Premier League over the best part of two decades.

That said, Gerrard was right not to be too thankful to the Chelsea fans after their gesture as I reckon only about half of them joined in with that applause and that may be because their club lacks a massive number of genuine football supporters.

Fair play to Chelsea supporters who acknowledged as great player in his final match at their ground, but we saw yet more evidence of the petty hatred people have for Liverpool’s greatest ever player.

What the hell were Chelsea fans up to holding up little yellow pieces of plastic referencing Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea in the game that cost Liverpool the title back in 2014? Come on lads, this is not the playground, we are all grown ups here and you made yourself look very silly.

That is why Stevie was right to not go overboard in acknowledging the applause and have a bit of a pop back at the Chelsea fans in his brilliant post-match interview with Sky because he has been on the end of some vile abuse from that lot down the years.

The same can be said of the treatment he has got from Manchester United and Everton supporters down the years and it is a shame that the game seems to have this tribal side to it these days.

I’m not looking through rose tinted glasses when I reflect on my playing days because while Liverpool and United fans have always disliked each other, there is a nastiness to the animosity between rivals players and supporters that is unpleasant these days.

It’s almost like people forget that the person on the end of their abuse is another human being. They see it as a bit of fun to have a pop at someone’s family or their kids on social media sites, but these idiots should not be allowed to get away with some of the stuff their promote.

Some sports writers who know little or nothing about the game seem to have enjoyed writing nasty articles about Gerrard down the years and once again, I don’t see the logic in knocking a player who has done so much for the game since he made his debut for the club back in 1998.

What a lot of people don’t get a chance to see with our top football stars is what they are like away from the football pitch and in their everyday lives, with Stevie’s celebrity status meaning he needs to stay out of the public’s reach most of the time.

This one of the tragedies of the way our game has gone. Back in my playing days, I used to love meeting up with fans and having a pint or two with them, but can you imagine what would happen if Gerrard walked into a packed Liverpool bar on a Saturday night? He’d be mobbed and nobody needs that kind of attention.

The Stevie I have been fortunate enough to get to know down the years is actually a great fella to spend time with. He’s a scouser so it goes without saying that he likes a laugh and his work with children’s charities in Portugal and Liverpool are fantastic.

He is a wonderful professional and while he has made a couple of mistakes and been caught out by the media in his younger days, he has learned from that and kept himself out of the public eye for the last few years.

A lot of players make fools of themselves in nightclubs or with their childish antics off the pitch, but Gerrard has gone about his business in a very dignified way and people should applaud him for that rather than try to find fault in his magnificent career.

I’m convinced we waved farewell to the greatest Liverpool player of all-time when he left the club and to those who say he is not a great because he didn’t win the Premier League, please wake up and smell the roses.

Gerrard came close to joining Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004 and 2005 and the truth is, he would have won a few Premier League titles with them if he had walked away from the club and joined a team that blew their rivals into submission financially. 

In the end, he just couldn’t bring himself sell his soul to the highest bidder and I know for a fact that he has no regrets about his decision.

Winning the Champions League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup with Liverpool meant more than anything he might have collected in a blue Chelsea shirt. That’s the way he sees it.

The truth is that this is a Liverpool lad who had lived the dream, played for the club he has supported all his life and turned out to be a legend whose legacy will live on for years to come.

Those who still chose to snipe at him are making themselves look foolish in my eyes because everyone who matters in this game have nothing but praise for a player who has covered himself in glory for a variety of reasons for so long.

Jose Mourinho tried to sign him for three clubs, Zinedine Zidane says he is the best player he has seen and the great Pele said back in 2006, and I will quote him here; “For the last five years, Gerrard has been the best player in the world.”

They are opinions from some of the greatest names in football history and when this great game of our allocates a place for Steven Gerrard among it’s all-time greats, he will be assured of a lofty perch.