Brendan Rodgers: 'Legend' doesn't do Steven Gerrard justice
Steven Gerrard has the right to be considered Liverpool's greatest player after confirming he will leave the club at the end of the season, manager Brendan Rodgers says.
Gerrard confirmed on Friday that he will end a 26-year association with the club when his contract expires in the summer.
He has yet to confirm where he will move to, although he said in a statement that he would not join "a competing club" and so would not be lining up against Liverpool.
The 34-year-old former England captain has been able to sign a pre-contract agreement with an overseas club since Thursday, and Rodgers said this week that he had accepted the possibility of that happening.
The manager told the club website on Friday: "It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool.
"This is an era where the word 'legend' is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn't do him justice.
"From a personal point of view I will always have gratitude for the support he gave me, when I arrived here as manager.
"Steven came to see me and promised he would be 100 percent behind me and do everything he could to help as we looked to introduce new ideas and a new way of working. He wasn't just true to his word -- he vastly exceeded it.
"People better placed than me to judge have said Steven is Liverpool's greatest-ever player; when you look at the company he is in, that is some statement.
"We of course will miss him, both on the field of play and in his capacity as club captain, but his influence will live on and we wish him nothing but joy and success wherever he chooses to go next."
The club's owners Fenway Sports Group also paid tribute to the contribution made by Gerrard, who joined Liverpool's academy as an eight-year-old and progressed through the youth ranks to make his first-team debut in November 1998.
In a joint statement on the Liverpool website, principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner said that Gerrard's contribution was "almost beyond measure."
They said: "This news stirs many strong emotions for all of us connected with the club.
"There is sadness that such a great player and person is leaving and won't be playing for Liverpool beyond this season, but there is also a sense of celebration and gratitude, that we've all been privileged to watch and work with one of the true greats, not just of this club, but the game in general.
"We will all have our own personal memories of breathtaking Steven Gerrard moments; there are far too many to list.
"His contribution to the club is almost beyond measure and it's testimony to his influence, that despite Liverpool having such a long and distinguished list of legendary figures, the name Steven Gerrard will always be at the summit.
"Another emotion that resonates today is respect; a respect not just for his achievements but also the decision he and his family have reached.
"Steven will always have a part to play for this club, as and when the time comes that he wishes to return.
"I hope we all respect that Steven and his family want to pursue something new and different for the final years of his playing career."