My hard work paid off, says Gerrard - Emirates24|7

My hard work paid off, says Gerrard

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard clears the ball during the Carling Cup third round match against Brighton & Hove Albion at the American Express Community Stadium on Wedensday in Brighton, England. (GETTY)

Steven Gerrard will hope to round off a fine week when Liverpool entertain Stoke at Anfield as they try to maintain their pursuit of a European place.

Gerrard scored the winning goal in Liverpool's 1-0 League Cup semi-final first-leg win at Premier League leaders Manchester City on Wednesday.

And then the England midfielder, 31, followed that up by signing a long-term deal that will keep him at the club for the rest of his career before he undertakes an ambassadorial role at Anfield.

The Reds go into the weekend in sixth place and have attracted criticism for the performances of expensive new signings Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing.

Liverpool -- who have not won any silverware since the FA Cup in 2006 -- must, given the league title looks beyond them, either win the League Cup or the FA Cup to avoid their trophy drought stretching into next season, which would be their longest spell without honours since a barren run from 1966 to 1973.

But Gerrard, who missed most of last year through injury, maintains he would not have signed a new contract with the club if he did not believe the Reds were going in the right direction.

"This is the club I love and is the club I have supported since I was a young boy," he said. "I am living the dream as the captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"I love coming to work every day and the experiences I have had since I was eight years of age and first signed for the club, I wouldn't change them for the world. To extend that and to hopefully have some more good times in a red shirt is what I want.

"There will be more highs and lows, there's no doubt about it as that's part and parcel of being a football player at a top club.

"The important thing is that you react well to the lows and experience more of the highs. I'm confident moving forward that the club is going in the right direction.

"We've got a fantastic team, we've got the right owners in place and the right team behind our team, so I'm really confident we'll have more good experiences in the future."

Midfielder Jay Spearing is doubtful for the game against the Potters after limping out of the City victory with a hamstring problem.

But other than Lucas Leiva, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has no other fitness concerns ahead of the weekend.

Stoke have caused the Reds plenty of problems at the Britannia Stadium in recent years but have not won at Anfield since 1959.

Irish midfielder Glenn Whelan, 27, has also signed a new deal this week, extending his agreement with the Midlands club until 2015.

Tony Pulis's side are now a well-established Premier League power and Whelan feels there are only more good times ahead for the club, which is now in its fourth season back in the top flight.

"I am excited about what the next few years could have in store, and I am proud to be a part of it as we look to continue the club's excellent progress," Whelan said.

"All of the hard work I have done over the past 12 months has paid off.

"To play at Wembley twice, reach the FA Cup final (where Stoke lost to Manchester City last season), play in Europe and be doing well at international level has certainly made it a memorable time for me."

Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson and striker Mamady Sidibe will once again be sidelined with knee problems.

 

Gerrard extends Liverpool stay

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is to stay at Anfield after signing a contract extension with the Premier League club.

Local hero Gerrard, 31, has been a one-club man throughout his career and the England midfielder told liverpoolfc.tv on Thursday: "I'm very happy. It's a very proud day for myself and my family."

The deal, the terms of which have not been made public, was announced less than a day after Gerrard scored the only goal in the Reds' League Cup semi-final first leg win at Manchester City.

"It comes on the back of a fantastic team performance last night when we got the result we were looking for," Gerrard added. "The contract extension coming the day after has been the icing on the cake so it has been a perfect 24 hours."

His latest goal meant Gerrard has now scored in two of his three appearances since the new year as he looks to put a difficult 2011, where he was sidelined with groin and ankle problems, behind him.

"This is the club I love and is the club I have supported since I was a young boy," Gerrard said. "I am living the dream as the captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"I love coming to work every day and the experiences I have had since I was eight years of age and first signed for the club, I wouldn't change them for the world.

"To extend that and to hopefully have some more good times in a red shirt is what I want.

"There will be more highs and lows, there's no doubt about it as that's part and parcel of being a football player at a top club.

"The important thing is that you react well to the lows and experience more of the highs.

"I'm confident moving forward that the club is going in the right direction.

"We've got a fantastic team, we've got the right owners in place and the right team behind our team, so I'm really confident we'll have more good experiences in the future."

His latest deal means Gerrard is set to finish his playing career at Liverpool, having joined the Merseysiders as a schoolboy.

But the Reds are already planning for the time when he does retire, having offered him an ambassadorial role similar to the one occupied by Kenny Dalglish before he was recalled for his second spell as Liverpool manager.

"It's really flattering for me that the club have offered me the chance to stay when I eventually hang my boots up," said Gerrard.

"Hopefully that will be in many years to come because I want to play for as long as I can.

"I'll know myself when it's time to hang my boots up and then hopefully I can stay involved with the club and set the right example for youngsters coming through."

Meanwhile a delighted Dalglish said: "For us, for Steven and for everybody connected with football club it's fantastic news.

"We're delighted for him and are looking forward to him getting back to full fitness and working hard for us and with us."

"He's been a fantastic servant to the football club."

 

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