Gerrard ended an 18-month playing stint with the LA Galaxy in November and though he spoke of perhaps continuing his playing career he spent much of his time in the last two months -- during which he turned down a few opportunities tendered by other clubs -- discussing a new role at Liverpool.
Those discussions with club management have yielded a full-time, wide-ranging job at its youth academy. Starting in February, he will work with the academy’s director, Alex Ingelthorpe, on the professional development phase of young players. Gerrard, 36, graduated from the team’s academy to represent the club in 710 games during a 17-year career before he signed with the Galaxy in the summer of 2015.
“It feels like completing the circle; returning to the place where professionally it all began,” Gerrard told reporters. “However, this isn’t a decision based on emotion – it’s about what I can offer and contribute to Liverpool. I don’t think I need to explain to people what this football club means to me, but when I knew coming back was a serious option I wanted to make sure it was a substantive role and a role in which I could really help the organization.
“Meeting with Alex Inglethorpe, seeing the work they are currently doing and want to do in the future at Kirkby, it just felt right. The right option at the right time, for all parties involved. This gives me a great opportunity to learn and develop as a coach while at the same time offering my knowledge, ideas and experience to the young players at an important period of their development.”
Gerrard has been working at the club’s academy while obtaining his coaching licenses and has been in regular contact with first-team manager Jurgen Klopp since the German’s arrival 16 months ago. Gerrard turned down an offer to manage MK Dons while discussing a role with the academy and will assist Klopp and Oglethorpe in grooming players for the first team.
Under Klopp, academy products Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold have played for the first team and earlier this week Harry Wilson got onto the field during Liverpool’s 1-0 victory at Plymouth Argyle in an FA Cup third-round replay. Klopp’s comments that he respects the FA Cup but will use younger players drew some criticism but a commitment to younger players is part of Klopp’s game plan.
Oglethorpe believes Gerrard can play a major role going forward. He is third on the team's all-time list of appearances and was a member of the Champions League winning-squad in 2005.
“If I was to pick one individual who embodies the characteristics and values we are looking to instil into our organization at Kirkby it would be Steven Gerrard,” Oglethorpe said. “For him to have been so enthusiastic about being part of what we are looking to do is simply great news for everyone connected to the club.
“I don’t think it would surprise anyone to know that Steven has had a host of great options, in terms of what to do next in his career, including playing, management and coaching. But it’s been evident from the first meeting with him that his heart and head belongs here. He has shown great humility in making it clear from the outset he wants a role where he can contribute to Liverpool; it’s typical of him that his priority has been defining the role so it helps the club, ahead of himself.
“He has expressed a desire to learn from us and manage a young team. The benefits to us will be immense. This is a substantial role and one which makes the academy and the club in general stronger and better.”