Former Liverpool FC captain and legend Steven Gerrard vowed to prove critics of his move to the Los Angeles Galaxy wrong as he prepares to make his long-awaited debut for the Major League Soccer giants.
The 35-year-old former Liverpool FC and England captain insisted he was motivated by the prospect of adding more silverware to his CV rather than a last bumper paycheck in the California sunshine.
“It’s all about success for me. I’ve come here to win,” Gerrard told a press conference at the Galaxy’s StubHub Center stadium.
“If there’s anyone out there who thinks I’ve come here for a holiday or a last paycheck they are going to be proved wrong.”
The inspirational midfielder decided to follow in the footsteps of former England teammate David Beckham last November as it became clear he was no longer an automatic first choice at Liverpool.
While many, including the likes of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, felt Gerrard could still have played at least another season in the Premier League, the former Liverpool captain was adamant he had departed at the right time.
Gerrard said he had options to join other teams in England and Europe but the prospect of possibly one day lining up against Liverpool FC had ruled out any chance of signing for another club.
“I had options to stay in the Premier League, I had options around Europe, but I didn’t want to compete against Liverpool,” Gerrard said.
“I love Liverpool football club and I always will do. I’m a fan to this day and will be for the rest of my life.
‘A new challenge’
“But I needed a new challenge and I knew I didn’t want to become a squad player and a sub at the club that I love after being a regular for so long.”
Gerrard, who shares an agent with Los Angeles Galaxy captain and former Liverpool FC teammate Robbie Keane, said he was quickly drawn to the prospect of a Hollywood ending after the club showed strong interest in signing him.
“What struck me the most was how aggressive they were in trying to get me to come here,” Gerrard said. “That made me feel very important and wanted. That’s key when you’re a footballer.”
Advice from former England teammate Beckham had also been crucial in helping the Liverpool FC legend make up his mind.
“David’s a hero of mine, someone I was lucky enough to play with, a fantastic guy and a wonderful footballer. He’s someone I leaned on for advice and I asked him a few questions before I got here.”
The former Liverpool FC captain is expected to make his debut for the Galaxy in a friendly match against Club America of Mexico on Saturday. He will make his league debut the following week.
Gerrard has already impressed Galaxy captain Keane in training since arriving in the United States at the end of June.
“He’s looking sharp,” Keane said Tuesday after a training session. “He has been off for a few weeks but it doesn’t look like that. He has already settled in.”
Gerrard, who has moved into a $12 million rented mansion in the ritzy celebrity enclave of Bel Air with his wife and three daughters, said he is looking forward to making a flying start with his new club.
“I think there will be a few minor tweaks and stops and starts. The players have got to get used to me, I’ve got to get used to the way the team plays.
“But I adapt pretty quickly. I’ve been around the game a long time. I want to get off to a good start. I’m not coming here with any excuses that I need months to settle in. I’m looking to fire immediately.
“But it’s easy to sit up here and talk the talk — now I’ve got to walk it.”