Relationships are hard work. Tough choices have to be made every so often. Once, Steven Gerrard had to choose between the warmth and comfort of his relationship with Liverpool, and the rush and excitement of a hot new fling with Real Madrid.
According to reports, Steven Gerrard was all set to leave Liverpool for Real Madrid. In the summer of 2005, Gerrard agreed to personal terms with the Galacticos, but just as negotiations were about to wrap up, he got cold feet and decided to stay at Anfield.
How romantic! Steven Gerrard and Madrid have given us the perfect vehicle for the return of Renée Zellweger and her new face. A soccer romance flick called “Personal Terms.” I already know the main song for the soundtrack.
It’s an age-old story. A man and his childhood sweetheart grow up together, the relationship is rocky at times, but the love is always there. They support each other, they believe in each other. Trust is their rock and their foundation. They’d spend their evenings in dimply lit cafes talking about the amazing life will have together, youthful optimism oozing from their pores and bouncing off their lustful glances at each other. So many titles. European competition every year. Steven was the dreamer. Liverpool was always a little hesitant. “Champions League. I mean — I’d love to win it someday, but are we ready?” Steven could sense Liverpool’s fear of change. He was ready to grow, but Liverpool was the only love he had ever known or wanted … or so he thought. Had Liverpool gotten too comfortable in their relationship? Were they playing it safe? Was league runner-up as good as it was going to get? Steven was growing restless.
“We already have a League Cup, two FA Cups, even a UEFA Cup! Is that not enough for you?! Am I not enough for you?” Liverpool would say. It broke Steven’s heart to see the club that helped make him a man this way. They would have a serious talk. Steven was worried that Liverpool no longer shared his ambitions. He feared that they were growing apart. Liverpool was so used to being the most beautiful club in town. Every player for miles wanted to be at Anfield. No one ever challenged Liverpool to demand better for itself the way Steven did. Liverpool knew that Steven’s love was real, but at the same time worried he might be happier somewhere else.
In 2004-05, things for Steven and Liverpool were good, but they weren’t great. Then the unexpected happened. A Champions League berth they were were both excited about saw them go farther together than — if they were honest with each other — either of them really thought possible. Steven had become a star, more than just the local boy that everyone in the neighborhood adored. There were new, iconic suitors vying for his attention. Real Madrid had began flirtations — as is often the case — the winter before. Steven was flattered, but he knew where his heart was. By by the summer, Steven was a European champion. Yes, he had done it with Liverpool, but was it a fluke? Could they do it again? Now that Steven had seen the top of the mountain, how could he ever allow himself to come down?
Real Madrid was a beautiful club. Arguably the most beautiful club in the world. Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Zidane, Raúl, Ronaldo (the fat one), Michael Owen, Figo, Guti. Everything Madrid did was a spectacle. Somehow, it didn’t always add up to success. Real Madrid wanted more. It wanted Steven Gerrard. That season had ended without a trophy. Madrid had a reputation and image to maintain. Second place finishes were not part of the plan. It came after Steven strong. It knew what he wasn’t getting any at home. The excitement that came with the annual chase for glory. The affection from fans that covered the globe, not just his backyard. Real Madrid offered Steven everything he thought he wanted.
He accepted. That summer, Steven had to make the heart-breaking decision to leave Liverpool. There was more to the world than the Merseyside derby and he wanted to experience it. Steven had agreed to personal terms with Madrid, but there was no way Liverpool was letting him leave without a a fight. Liverpool pledged eternal love to Steven. How could he leave now, so soon after the greatest night of their lives? They had spent so much time building a home together at Anfield and, just when things were going well, Steven wanted to leave for some Spanish strumpet. Every star in the world had already been with Madrid. Liverpool reminded Steven of how special he was. He was the best Liverpool ever had and they were finally at a place where Steven’s dreams were becoming a reality and Liverpool was ready to grow. It was a partnership of destiny.
In the end, Steven Gerrard went with his heart and chose the familiar over the extravagant. Like all good romantic movies, this one has had its own happy ending. Since rejecting Real Madrid, Steven and Liverpool are stronger than ever and have gone on to win … hmmm … another League and FA Cup. But they found a nice place in a really great school district, so it isn’t all bad.