Steven Gerrard retires, ending remarkable playing career

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Steven Gerrard's career is over. The Liverpool legend, who spent the last two years with the LA Galaxy, has announced his retirement.

“Following recent media speculation surrounding my future I can confirm my retirement from playing professional football,” Gerrard said.

“I have had an incredible career and am thankful for each and every moment of my time at Liverpool, England and LA Galaxy.

“As a teenager I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the famous red shirt of Liverpool, and when I made my debut against Blackburn Rovers in November 1998 I could never have imagined what would then follow over the next 18 years.”

Gerrard played an astonishing 710 matches for Liverpool, none more famous than the 2005 Champions League final. Liverpool trailed 3-0 at halftime, but Gerrard scored just after the break, beginning a comeback that saw the Reds get even before winning in penalty kicks. Gerrard, who captained Liverpool in that final, was named Man of the Match.

In addition to the Champions League title, Gerrard also helped Liverpool win two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup. He captained the club for 12 years and his 41 goals in Europe are a club record. His 186 career goals for the club in all competitions are good for fifth on Liverpool's all-time list, an astonishing place for a midfielder.

Thee has arguably never been a player more beloved by Liverpool than Gerrard, and for good reason. He wasn't simply a brilliant player, but one who came up through the club's academy, spending 11 years there before making his debut and spending 17 years with the first time. Simply put, he was Liverpool FC.

Gerrard was also an institution for England. He made 114 appearances for his country over 14 years, scoring 21 goals and even serving as the captain for a spell. His three assists at Euro 2012 helped him earn Man of the Match honors on two occasions and a spot on the UEFA Team of the Tournament, as England went to the quarterfinals.

For all of Gerrard's incredible accomplishments, his career was not without disappointment. He failed to win the league, first with Liverpool and then with the LA Galaxy, despite being tipped as contenders or even favorites with both.

Gerrard has done some punditry in recent years, but he has also been clear about his desire to coach. He is working on his coaching badges and was reportedly offered the MK Dons job, although he declined it because he did not feel he was ready. There are rumors that he will return to Liverpool and coach an academy team to begin his management career.

Whatever Gerrard does next, what he did on the pitch will be remembered by the record books and anyone who watched him.