Few footballers can match the accomplishments of Steven Gerrard, who at the age of 36 and after 18-years in professional football announced his retirement from the game today.
Gerrard won seven major honours and made 710 appearances in all competitions for his beloved Liverpool, was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on eight separate occasions and won 114 international caps for England – a select few statistics that highlight just how special a player he was.
While there are those who questioned Gerrard’s decision to remain loyal to the Reds for all but the final 18-months of his career rather than move elsewhere in search of more silverware, the legendary No.8 has still enjoyed a career the vast majority can only dream of.
Given what Gerrard has achieved in the game, it isn’t surprising that he’s been able to call upon some excellent teammates down the years.
At Liverpool, he lined up alongside players of the ilk of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and his fellow scouser Jamie Carragher, while with England he shared a pitch with Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney, amongst others.
It would be safe to say though that his teammates down the years haven’t always been world-beaters. In fact some of them have been absolutely terrible, and probably unfit to lace Gerrard’s boots.
There was a plentiful selection from which to choose from, but here’s our combined XI of Gerrard’s previous teammates.
Goalkeeper: Charles Itandje
Signed to provide competition for Pepe Reina in 2007 after impressing for RC Lens in France, Charles Itandje stuck around at Anfield for three years without ever making a Premier League appearance.
When he was handed opportunities in the cup competitions, he hardly set the world alight, while his career in England ended in disgrace when he was caught behaving inappropriately at a Hillsborough memorial service.
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool wiped their hands of him immediately after that thoroughly unsavoury incident.
Right-Back: Philipp Degen
On the face of it, the signing of a proven Switzerland international who’d spent three years in the Borussia Dortmund team on a free transfer looked to be a shrewd piece of business.
Alas, the FC Basel academy graduate was an unmitigated disaster at Liverpool, restricted to just 12 matches across his three years at the club, before returning to Germany to sign for VFB Stuttgart. Degen retired after a successful five-year stint at Basel this summer.
Centre-Back: Bjorn Tore Kvarme
A Norwegian international who could play on the right side of defence or centrally, Bjorn Tore Kvarme was just about still at Liverpool while Gerrard was starting to make his name in the 1998-99 season.
By then though, Kvarme was well and truly out-of-favour under Gerard Houllier’s management, as he departed at the end of the season to join Saint-Etienne.
Incidentally, Kvarme almost got his hands on a domestic league title some years later while playing for Real Sociedad, although he and his teammates just missed out to Real Madrid.
Centre-Back: Djimi Traore
What does Djimi Traore have that Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic don’t? The answer: a Champions League winners’ medal (he even started in the incredible victory over AC Milan in 2005).
Bearing a striking resemblance to Bambi On Ice whenever he graced the football pitch, Traore’s most memorable moment in a Liverpool shirt was somehow back-heeling the ball into his own net in a cup tie against Burnley.
Left-Back: Paul Konchesky
The player that defines the brief Roy Hodgson era at Anfield. And not in a good way. Paul Konchesky enjoyed a long and fruitful career in the Premier League for a variety of clubs, but it’s fair to say he didn’t enjoy the best of times at Liverpool.
After a sum total of 18 appearances for the club in all competitions, Konchesky was unceremoniously dumped by Hodgson’s managerial replacement Kenny Dalglish just six months after joining, by heading to Nottingham Forest on loan.
Right Midfield: El Hadji Diouf
In terms of ability, El Hadji Diouf is arguably the best player in this team, but perhaps only Itandje is more universally unpopular amongst the club’s fanbase than the Senegalese forward.
Tipped for big things upon his arrival following his blistering performances for his country at the 2002 World Cup, Diouf netted a pathetic three goals in 55 matches, while his time at the club was shrouded by controversies, such as spitting at Celtic fans during a European fixture.
He’s further soured his reputation on Merseyside by regularly slagging off Liverpool legends Carragher and Gerrard.
Centre Midfield: Christian Poulsen
Another abject signing of the Hodgson era, Christian Poulsen arrived at Liverpool with a stellar reputation having turned out for the likes of Schalke, Juventus and Sevilla, but he failed dismally to match the expectations on him.
Tasked with replacing Mascherano as the ball-winning member of Liverpool’s midfield, Poulsen lasted just one season in English football before moving to Evian in France.
Centre Midfield: Jay Spearing
It will always be tough for a local lad in the Liverpool academy to fill Gerrard’s boots, but quite simply Jay Spearing never, ever looked like doing so. Indeed, it remains a mystery that he somehow amassed 55 appearances for his boyhood club.
Now 27 (how?!), Spearing is playing in League One at Bolton Wanderers, with whom he suffered relegation from the Championship last season.
Left Midfield: Antonio Nunez
Rarely do swap deals involving footballers take place, but if they do, one club will invariably get the worst end of it than the other. In 2005, Liverpool recouped £8 million from Real Madrid for Michael Owen, with Antonio Nunez chucked in for good measure.
In that particular deal, the Reds certainly lost out. Nunez predominantly featured as a substitute during his sole season at Anfield, but looked utterly out of his depth. After leaving Liverpool in 2006, he embarked on a nomadic career, failing to pull up any trees anywhere.
Striker: Erik Meijer
Signed on a free transfer from Bayer Leverkusen in 1999, Erik Meijer scored only two goals for the club – both of which came in the League Cup – in 27 matches.
On the pitch, Meijer was nowhere near the standard required of a Liverpool striker, but off it he became a cult hero after he was spotted celebrating the club’s UEFA Cup win with the fans in 2001.
Striker: Sean Dundee
One of the players in this picture won the Ballon d’Or. The other didn’t. The South African-born German front-man signed for Liverpool in 1998 for £2 million following a productive spell at Karlsruher.
Neither of Liverpool’s joint-managers, Roy Evans or Houllier, seemed to fancy him much though, as he featured only three times for the first-team, before returning to Germany at the end of the 1998-99 season.