The Unguarded moment at Anfield

The Unguarded moment at Anfield

Football is defined by moments such as these...

 

"You've just dropped the World Cup".

Legend has it that these are the words Steve Waugh dropped like hand grenades at the feet of South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs after he botched a catch off the Australian skipper in their crucial cricket World Cup match in 1999.

Gibbs had earlier made a century to help his team to an imposing total of 271. Waugh would go on to make 120 from 110 balls and deliver Australia a victory and a spot in the semi finals.

Never mind that both players can't recall those withering words being spoken. So often in sport myth is mightier than truth. That moment and its ghost words came to define the career of one player and the character of the other.

A similar fate might befall Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.

The Liverpool legend may well have just dropped the Premier League trophy.

Gerrard's fateful slip on the cusp of half time in the game against Chelsea at Anfield that gifted the opening goal of the game to Demba Ba last weekend should not be the defining moment of a wonderful career.

Like most sport, football can be unforgiving.

Gerrard's career is rich with brilliant moments. There are FA and League Cups, a UEFA Cup success and the ultimate accolade of a UEFA Champions League trophy on his CV.

In over 472 appearances for Liverpool he has graced the pitch with the skill and grace of a thoroughbred.

His loyalty to his club is anathema to the culture of the portable footballer, traded like stocks and bonds on the open market, available to the highest bidder.

He is of, and plays for his people.

Only the hardest of hearts (and the reddest of devils) would begrudge him the one prize that has so far eluded him in his club career. A Premier League winners medal.

Yet that one moment, where his wheels gave way and the seeming invincibility of this Liverpool team crumbled, might yet be that Herschelle Gibbs moment for Gerrard.

In the end that says more about us than it does about the Liverpool legend.

A football career is little more than a million such moments woven together by fate, fortune, industry and ingenuity. For the finest players such as Gerrard this produces a wonderful tapestry for us to marvel at.

Yet it's human nature to want to pick at the lose thread or where the edges are torn and frayed.

And it becomes the imperfections that we often feast upon.

The great Roberto Baggio knows this all to well having lived with his penalty miss at USA '94 for over two decades.

Herschelle Gibbs must think about that catch every single day.

Lucas Neill would still burn with the injustice of it, but in quieter moments must ask himself if he could have done anything differently when he found himself alone with Fabio Grosso in the penalty box that day in Kaiserslautern.

Liverpool's quest is not yet over, and Gerrard may yet be granted a reprieve from such a fate if events once again look favourably on him and his team.

As he contemplates the weeks ahead and what might be, Steven Gerrard will be hoping that it amounts to more than just memories of his unguarded moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment