They say players like Steven Gerrard come once in a generation. When it comes to England and their talent production belt, is it more like once and never again?
When the former Liverpool Captain “Stevie G” announced his retirement last week Thursday, accolades and tributes started pouring in from all over. Some of the biggest names in football took some time out to say goodbye to one of the best players ever to play the modern game.
Twitter was abuzz, #StevenGerrard trended for days, Facebook and Youtube were flooded with goal compilations of a man who always played the game in the right spirit, and was bloody good at it. Zidane, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Cafu, Suarez etc, all bearing testament to his class and talent.
Why is Steven Gerrard such an anomaly and not the norm?
Liverpool were extremely fortunate to have had Steven Gerrard playing for them from such a young age and for such a long time.
When the doctors worked to save his foot, Liverpool Football Club had pulled out all stops to save the young lad…How many times thereafter did he save them?
He was a rare talent and even more so in England. Flair and extremely gifted players seem to be a fading ideal. Teams are nurturing local talent but with the impatience to wait for it to bear fruit and the need for instant success, the bigger teams are more likely to by a good player now rather than wait for an academy player to develop his skills over years.
Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney saved their teams millions in transfer fees but it seems the chances of seeing academies popping out talented youngsters have long since dwindled. There have been a few that are coming through the ranks, but not nearly as much as they should be.
Ben Woodburn has been scoring goals for fun and made his debut for Liverpool on Tuesday night in the EFL Cup. The welsh teenager scored and became Liverpool’s youngest ever scorer. The FA will probably will be working on him switching to play for England.
Are English players just not good enough?
As harsh as it seems, that may be the bitter truth. At the prime of his career,Gerrard could do it all, he could dribble like Coutinho, pass the ball 40 yards like Xabi Alonso, score with the regularity of Suarez , and tackle as ferociously as Joel Matip. English players are known for their grit and hardwork, creativity and flair nowadays not so common. A dribbling Englishman like Adam Lallana today is one in a million… literally. The Henderson and James Milner types are more the typical mold of English players frequenting the EPL. Strong old fashioned defenders another typecast associated with England players. That is possibly why the formula of skillful South American players mixed together with British “industry” seems to be the perfect recipe for exciting football.
All in all, we wait and see if another Steven Gerrard emerges, but realistically it seems now more than ever that the commentary classic “There’s only one Steven Gerrard “could be life imitating life.