Steven Gerrard endured “worst three months” of his life after Liverpool, England heartbreak

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Steven Gerrard’s career has, largely, been one of the most successful of any current player in the Premier League. He’s captained Liverpool to a UEFA Champions League title, led England at two different World Cups, scored some incredible goals and is a player idolized across the world.

Yet since April 27, 2014, things have gone downhill. Rapidly.

[RELATED: Gerrard retires from England]

If you remember back to the end of last season Gerrard, 35, slipped at a crucial moment to set Chelsea on their way to a win at Anfield that delivered a damaging blow to Liverpool’s title hopes. It was a cruel blow for the man who had so often been Liverpool’s savior over the years. Then, after Liverpool blew a 3-0 lead over Crystal Palace in the penultimate game of the season which ultimately cost them the their first-ever PL title, Gerrard suffered the heartbreak of captaining England as they crashed out at the 2014 World Cup.

Over the offseason Gerrard has had to overcome plenty of adversity, in his own mind. Speaking to the Telegraph and Liverpool’s website, Gerrard admitted that the past three months have been the worst in his life.

“It’s probably been the worst three months of my life,” Gerrard said. “I’ve seen it a few times. I don’t have to watch something like that to go through the pain again and again and again. I’ve been through the pain in the dressing room after and in the weeks and months since. When something like that happens you have to face it up and be man enough to take it on the chin. Accept it happened. You can’t change it. I haven’t lost my man at a set-piece. I haven’t missed a penalty. I haven’t made a bad pass or a mistake. That’s why it was cruel. Every single person on the planet slips at some point in their life, whether it is on a set of stairs, on the floor or whatever.”

That slip against Chelsea will be remembered for a long time, as Liverpool’s hero for over a decade made a monster mistake at precisely the wrong moment. Turns out, lightning can strike twice. Sort of. After England lost 2-1 to Italy in their opening game of the World Cup, they knew they had to at least draw against Uruguay to stand a chance of making the knockout rounds. Late in the game with the scored locked at 1-1, a long ball forward saw Gerrard jump for the ball. Instead of winning the header clean, it flicked off the back of his head and found Luis Suarez. His Liverpool teammate drove another dagger into Gerrard’s heart by scoring the goal which knocked England out.

Gerrard wasn’t solely responsible for either Liverpool losing the title or England being knocked out of the World Cup, but his role as captain and the fact that he made pivotal mistakes at crucial times are eating away at him.

“Unfortunately I have had that tough time at club level at the end of the season and then I have gone into a World Cup hoping that it was going to go really well to help me get over it. But it backfired,” Gerrard said. “I have had two massive, unbelievable lows in a short space of time, so it is a good test for me this season. Can I hit form after that? I believe that I can.”

So, can Gerrard dust himself off and lead a new-look Liverpool towards the PL title and success in the Champions League this season? Bouncing back from the disappointment of the past three months could be his biggest challenge yet.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?