Belfast Telegraph

Anfield will salute 'Mr Liverpool', says Rodgers

By Paul Hirst

Brendan Rodgers believes Steven Gerrard is 'Mr Liverpool' and has done more for his home city than the politicians whose job it is to work for the betterment of the area.

The 34-year-old midfielder will lead his boyhood side out at Anfield for the final time tonight ahead of his summer move to Los Angeles Galaxy.

Reds manager Rodgers, of course, won't be the only Ulsterman going through the emotions as Liverpool's army of supporters from Northern Ireland prepare for life without their departing hero.

Gerrard's only appearance in Northern Ireland during his glittering career is not remembered fondly by the former England international as Sven-Goran Eriksson's side went home with their tails between their legs thanks to David Healy's winner in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park. The date was September 7, 2005 - in case it slipped your mind.

Rodgers was then working alongside Jose Mourinho at Chelsea after being appointed head youth coach at the club's academy.

Now the Carnlough man is reflecting on the short time he has enjoyed working with one of England's greatest ever players.

Gerrard's testimonial at Anfield in August 2013 raised about £1m and he donated £500,000 to Alder Hey Children's Hospital Charity - of which he became a founding partner - while his own foundation, set up in 2011, continues to raise money for local causes.

Rodgers, whose side face Crystal Palace tonight, said that showed the mark of the man.

"I've asked a lot of my staff 'If you could describe Steven in one word what would it be?'" he said.

"The words which come to mind are 'genuine', 'quality', 'world-class' - all the adjectives you would describe him as.

"I would describe him as 'Liverpool'. Not just Liverpool as a football club but Liverpool the city.

"This is a guy who is very much about looking after his people. He loves this city. He has had a number of opportunities to move from here to prestigious clubs but Liverpool is his home. He grew up round the corner and went on to play for the club he supported and what he has given to this city, politicians haven't given to this city. What he has done for local hospitals and charities.

"He is a wonderful symbol for the people here."

Aitor Karanka will cap his first full season in English football with a trip to Wembley after guiding Middlesbrough into the Championship play-off final with a resounding win over Brentford.

Goals from Lee Tomlin, Kike and Albert Adomah secured a 3-0 semi-final, second-leg victory to extend the Teessiders' aggregate advantage to 5-1.

Premier League: Anfield, 5.30pm (Sky)


C Palace

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