Liverpool FC supporters bade farewell to their inspirational captain Steven Gerrard as he stepped onto the hallowed Anfield turf for the final time on Saturday, May 16, 2015.
Gerrard, who joined the club aged nine, emerged from the tunnel with his three daughters Lilly-Ella 11, Lexie, nine, and Lourdes, three, as his team-mates and opponents Crystal Palace formed a guard of honour.
The heartbeat of the club for more than a decade, Gerrard made 709 appearances for his boyhood team, scoring 185 goals and winning 10 trophies.
As he fought back tears, the Kop, a sea of red and white, roared his name and held up signs and banners saluting their favourite son.
To mark the momentous occasion, the Kop created a ‘S 8 G’ for Gerrard, while the Centenary Stand simply read: ‘Captain’.
His wife, Alex Curran, was seen wiping away tears under her sunglasses.
The songs played before the game captured the mood, with tracks including ‘No More Heroes’ by The Stranglers, ‘Come Back’ by the Mighty Wah, ‘It Must Have Been Love But It’s Over Now’ by Roxette and ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ by REM.
The match day programme featured a picture of Gerrard on the front cover with the poignant words: ‘I’ve lived my life for Liverpool FC – it’s been a privilege to captain our club.’
His farewell game ended on a disappointing note, with Liverpool losing 3-1 following two late goals from the London club.
‘I have to save my last thank you to these supporters who stand out more than any of them’, he added before he was interrupted as the Anfield faithful broke into another song in tribute to their skipper.
‘The very first time I ran out in front of The Kop, I’ll never forget that. The first time I played for Liverpool was a dream come true. Everything after that was a bonus.
‘I’d like to thank everyone at the club who’s helped me over the last 17 years, from top to bottom. I’d like to thank all the staff who have helped me, and all the ex-players I’ve played alongside.
‘But most of all, I’d like to thank the fans. These supporters here stand out more than any. I’ve played in front of most supporters around the world, but you are the best.’
In a glittering career, Gerrard made his Liverpool first team debut in 1998, and was named as club captain in 2003, a position he held for the next 12 years.
He went on to win two FA Cups, three League Cups, one Champions League, one UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cups.
His first goal in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul against AC Milan inspired Liverpool’s famous comeback and he was named man of the match in that most extraordinary game.
The following year, his stoppage time 35-yard wonder goal (as he battled through cramp) against West Ham took the FA Cup Final into extra time, which Liverpool went on to win in a penalty shootout.
Gerrard, who also won 114 caps for England, will follow in David Beckham’s footsteps when he joins Major League Soccer outfit LA Galaxy next month.