The worst kept secret in soccer is out.
Steven Gerrard has confirmed on Friday that he will not sign a new contract with his hometown side Liverpool, as the talismanic captain of the Reds will end his 26-year relationship with the Anfield club at the end of the 2014-15 season.
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Reports leaked out on New Year’s Day that Gerrard was set to leave Liverpool, as the man who has won 11 trophies and played almost 700 times for the Merseyside club during his illustrious career was only contracted to the side until July. Now, it is official. The former England national team captain will walk away from the Reds at the end of the current campaign after joining Liverpool as eight-year-old, making 695 appearances, winning 11 trophies and carrying the team for most of his career.
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Gerrard, 34, released the following statement on Liverpool’s website as he confirmed his next move will be abroad, with Major League Soccer expected to be his next destination.
“This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonized over for a good deal of time. I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future. Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.
“I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool – that is something I could never contemplate. My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.
“I can’t thank Brendan, the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they’ve handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my teammates and all the staff for their help and continued support. It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.
“One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.
“My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters. It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”