Steven Gerrard: Franco Baresi or Fulvio Collovati?

Posted by JessRed76 on February 1, 2005, 11:46:48 AM

As a lifetime AC Milan fan, with a Liverpool supporting girlfriend, I would like to give you my view on Steven Gerrard and his future at Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard: 24 years old, Liverpool captain, from Merseyside, a homegrown talent. Now, I believe most of you reading have played football when kids (some of you are probably still playing now, like me, in those cold Sunday mornings, in some local amateur league, sorting out the nets, the money for the ref, bringing home muddy boots for the missus' delight...).

We all started in the same fashion and so did Mr Gerrard: in the streets and in the school playgrounds, with jumpers for goalposts, spending hours arguing wether the ball was or wasn't gone over a bar that wasn't there to begin with. Preferring a game of football with your mates to anything else that there was in life. And if we weren't playing football... we would be watching it.

Whether you were a striker or a defender, whether you were good or bad, whether you were you or you were Steven Gerrard the dream was one for all of us:

TO WEAR THE LIVERPOOL SHIRT AND THE CAPTAIN'S ARMBAND AT ANFIELD IN FRONT OF THE KOP

You can change that to AC Milan and the San Siro if for me. I am sure every single one of you had that dream of putting on the Red shirt and the armband. Some of you probably still do! Well, so did Steven Gerrard.

This is why as a neutral I can not understand nor tolerate the fact that the guy is even thinking of a career outside Liverpool! Can you?

Being captain of your own team at the age of 24, playing Champions League football ... is that not enough?

If Gerrard was to stay he almost certainly will be Liverpool captain for another 10 years. He will almost certainly win trophies in the next 10 years. He will be Liverpool greatest player during his nearly 20 years with the club's first team. He will be a legend. He will probably be remembered as the best Liverpool player ever. He will be what Franco Baresi has been to Milan.

Does anyone know what Baresi did in the early eighties? Here's what has happened: At 14 Baresi joins Milan after Inter (where is older brother was playing) rejected him, how foolish of them! He makes his debut very young and in 1979 wins the title with Milan. A couple of years later Milan gets relegated from Serie A to Serie B. The club is in a mess having being involved in match fixing and the club's owner ran away. The club was in total crisis, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel was impossible.

A few weeks later city's rival Inter make an offer for Baresi and Baresi's partner in the middle of the defence Collovati. Straight away Collovati joins Inter. A then very young Baresi (21-22) is made captain of a falling giant. He's regarded by most as the best young talent of his generation and the 1982 World Cup is around the corner. Staying with Milan playing in Serie B would probably jeopardise his chances of going to the World Cup. Joining Inter would mean playing alongside his brother and enjoying the race for title every season at a club flushed with money. Collovati had no doubt in his mind that the right choice was to join Inter. But what did Baresi do? The similarity with the Steven Gerrard's situation was so big I had to write this article.

Liverpool are nowhere near as bad as AC Milan was in the early eighties.

What should Steven Gerrard do? What did Franco Baresi do?

I am sure most of you know what Baresi did but I'll tell you anyway: HE STAYED AT MILAN! He played for them in Serie B. He was so good he was picked for the World Cup squad anyway. Milan won the Serie B league and came straight up only to go down again one season later. More offers came in for Baresi. Did he regret his original choice? Did he join Inter, Juve? Did he? Of course he didn't. He played for Milan in Serie B again. That's what I call a man!

In the following years with Milan he won promotion and then went on to win the European Cup three times (now better known as Champions League), he won the Intercontinental Cup twice, the European Super Cup 3 times, the Italian League 5 times (to add to the win in 1979), and played a total of 5 European Cup Finals. He became for every Milan fan 'Il Capitano' (The Captain, capital T and capital C).

When he retired from football in 1997 the club not only organised a match for him in the San Siro where 85,000 paying supporters saw him and the Milan players play the likes of Maradona, Romario, Careca, Koeman, Mattheus but also the jersey with the number 6, the number he worn for so many years, was retired as well. No more Milan players will ever wear the number 6 (this week has been announced that the same will happen with Paolo Maldini's number 3 when he retires).

Thinking forward should Gerrard commit himself to Liverpool for life? I can not see why he shouldn't be able to experience the same glory and all time legendary status. It all goes back to that one dream we had when we were playing in the streets. The day that dream ends football will end with it. I wish Steven Gerrard will realize this.

By the way: how many of you knew who Collovati was? To Milan fans he's a traitor, that's all, who left the club in their hour of need. I have to wash my mouth every time I say his name. Baresi in contrast is an immortal.

© JR76 2005

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