Saturday, February 25, 2012

Steven Gerrard eager to erase dire memories of Carling Cup 'nightmare'

Captain wants to lift cup for Liverpool at Wembley to help forget his own-goal in 2005 Cardiff final that was 'one of my worst days'

Steven Gerrard switches to auto-pilot when asked to revisit the 2005 final. "As I've said many times, it was the best night of …" Awkwardly, he has to be cut off. It is that year's Carling Cup final on the agenda. "Oh that," he says, and there is an interminable silence as he trawls through the buried file of the memory bank. "Nightmare."

It was not just logic-defying comebacks and Champions League glory for the Liverpool captain in 2005. Before the header past Dida at the Ataturk Stadium there was a head rub from José Mourinho at the Millennium, where the then Chelsea manager gave Gerrard a consoling pat following Liverpool's 3-2 defeat in their last Carling Cup final appearance.

Wembley is a reward on a personal level too, with Gerrard having missed much of 2011 through a series of serious and dispiriting injuries. "Last year was the toughest of my career so far and I worked so hard to get back for days like this so all that hard work is paying off."

Sunday also brings him face-to-face for the first time in his professional career with his cousin Anthony Gerrard, the Cardiff defender. The pair are close. Up to a point. "He's playing in his first major final," says the Liverpool captain with a hint of pride, "but I'm hoping to send him home like I felt in 2005."

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(by guardian)


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