Steven Gerrard: I can play beyond 35
Captain Steven Gerrard believes he could play on for Liverpool beyond 2015 after declaring: “I’ve never felt fitter.”
Gerrard, 33, recently signed a contract extension that will ensure he stays at the club for another two years.
The England captain will make his first appearance at Anfield since signing that deal when he appears in his testimonial match against Greek champions Olympiacos on Saturday.
And he has vowed to play on for as long as he can after taking advice from former team-mates Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler.
Gerrard believes that an operation to sort out a long-term groin problem in 2011 – coupled with a rigorous pre-season training programme prepared by fitness coach Ryland Morgans this summer – has left him in ideal shape.
He said: “Personally, it’s been the most difficult pre-season we’ve had. The training’s been brutal.
“We’ve got a fitness coach who’s been in for close to eight months. He’s put us through our paces, and I think the quality has shown in our first four games – we’ve yet to concede a goal and we’re scoring freely.
“So far, so good, but there’s still a long way to go and a lot of hard work to be put in, but we couldn’t be in better condition at this stage.”
Asked if he felt as fit as he ever had, Gerrard said: “Yeah I do, actually. That’s not just because of the pre-season work I’ve done. It’s been over the last 14 to 16 months since I had my groin fixed. I haven’t felt better.
“In pre-season so far, I’ve done the majority of the training, I’ve played in all the games, and I feel really good and strong.
“So I’m hoping I can go beyond the two years I’ve signed for, but I’ll make that decision as we go along.”
Gerrard has kept in regular contact with former vice-captain Carragher, who retired in May, and striker Fowler – the fifth-highest goalscorer in the club’s history – who ended his playing days in 2012.
The Liverpool captain said: “When you move into the latter stages of your career, you want to cherish every moment and make the most of it.
“I’ve had many a conversation with Jamie since he stopped, and I’ve also spoken to Robbie Fowler today – I’ve just had lunch with him.
”The first thing they talk about is how much they’re missing it. So while I’ve still got a couple of years left – and maybe a few more after that, who knows? – I want to ensure I make the most of it.
“For me to do that, it’s about winning and trying to add a couple more medals to what I’ve already got, and also to try to leave this club in a healthy position – and that will be in the Champions League. That’s the challenge for me.”
The proceeds of Saturday’s testimonial will go to the Steven Gerrard Foundation, which aims to help disadvantaged children.
Gerrard, who hopes to raise more than £1 million from the game, said: “I know I’m not going to change the world, but if I can give a little bit back, it’ll make me feel proud.
“We want to win the game, to keep the momentum going from our pre-season programme, which has gone really well.”