PFA Players’ Player of the Year 2006 – Steven Gerrard
The Liverpool favourite made the right impression.
Steven Gerrard had some making up to do with Liverpool fans after the summer of 2005.
The euphoria of that magical Champions League final in Istanbul soon wore off as contract negotiations between Liverpool and their captain broke down.
Fans gathered outside Anfield to burn Gerrard shirts after club chief executive Rick Parry announced he had rejected a new deal and was close to leaving.
Twenty-four hours later, amid much backtracking, Gerrard had signed a new four-year deal but still had much work to do to reconnect with the Kop.
But his performances over the next season would pretty much do the job.
Liverpool’s season began early – on July 13 – as they had to go through qualifying to defend their Champions League title but, inspired by their skipper, they maintained a relentless pace.
Gerrard topped Liverpool’s goalscoring charts, scoring 23 goals in 53 appearances as the Reds finished third in the Premier League, nine points behind Chelsea, and lifted the FA Cup, with Gerrard scoring twice in a 3-3 draw before Liverpool beat West Ham in a penalty shoot-out.
Before that day – widely remembered as ‘The Gerrard Final’ – the 25-year-old’s performances saw him become the first Liverpool player since John Barnes in 1988 to be voted the PFA Player of the Year.
Gerrard would win only one further trophy with Liverpool, the League Cup in 2012, but when he left Anfield to join the LA Galaxy in the summer of 2015 he did so recognised as one of the greatest players of his generation, and as one of Liverpool’s best.