Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard admitted it will be tough to finally say goodbye to Anfield this weekend when he plays his final English Premier League home match of his distinguished career at his boyhood club.
“I’ve had some incredible moments here,” he said.
“It will be tough to finally say goodbye and I’ll certainly miss playing here.”
Saturday will see the Reds host Crystal Palace, before skipper Gerrard moves to the United States to play for Los Angeles Galaxy in the American Major League Soccer this summer.
It will bring an end to the Liverpool legend’s 27-year-stay with the Merseysiders after coming through the youth system and establishing himself as the heartbeat of the team.
Gerrard has netted 119 times in 501 league appearances and has racked up a host of major honours, including the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup, two English FA Cups and three English League Cups.
And the Merseysider said it could be emotional when he finally bids farewell to the Anfield faithful on Saturday evening.
He said: “I’ve been dreading it for a long time, certainly since I made the announcement back in January.
“I didn’t want this moment to come really.
“I love playing in front of my own people. I love this stadium. I’ve had some incredible moments here. I’ve had some lows as well but it will be tough to finally say goodbye at the weekend. I’ll certainly miss playing here.”
Gerrard’s form has not been a problem on the horizon of his farewell, as he scored Liverpool’s winner against Queens Park Rangers and equaliser against Chelsea in their two last league encounters.
Gerrard is determined to finish on a high as Liverpool look to secure UEFA Europa League qualification.
“I want to try to enjoy the occasion, the last game, and hopefully we can get a win,” he said.
“A bonus would be to try and get on the scoresheet, but whatever comes after the game I’ll try and manage it the best way I can and keep it together.
“Hopefully, I can manage it and control the situation. I just want that moment to be able to say goodbye to the supporters properly. Not just here, I know the game’s going to be televised so it’ll be nice to say goodbye and thanks to all the people that have supported me over the years.”
Gerrard made his debut for Liverpool on 29 November, 1998, when he came on as a substitute on the 89th minute against Blackburn Rovers in a league match.
Gerrard says he can still remember replacing Vegard Heggem and was confident at that time that he had the ability to play at that level, even though, as an 18-year-old, he says it was hard to make the first-team breakthrough.
“I first went full-time at 16 years of age,” he recalled.
“I loved going to work to be around all my heroes in the first team dressing-room, and then also the first game against Blackburn where the journey begun. Getting a couple of minutes and being able to say that I’ve played for Liverpool’s first team – that was the first buzz.
“I found the first couple of games really difficult. I had the ability to play at that level but physically I wasn’t ready, so it took time to feel comfortable and feel part of it.
“Proving yourself in the dressing room, when you first go in, it’s quite intimidating. You’ve got to win people over and prove to them that you’re a good lad and you’re ready to fight for the team. Once I did that I felt comfortable and I’ve been able to contribute for a long time.”
In the 1998/99 season, Gerrard made 12 league appearances, including four starts, and became a regular starter thereafter.
Since then, Liverpool have been challenging for a top four place and European qualification, and Gerrard amitted the Premier League title is the honour he most regrets not winning.
He played a starring role in the 2008/09 campaign in where the Reds finished second, four points behind Manchester United, and they went even closer under current manager Brendan Rodgers last season, ending two points adrift champions Manchester City.
“I’d love to have one of them [a BPL title winners’ medal], but in life you can’t have it all.”
Gerrard will receive a guard of honour on Saturday in celebration of his career and when asked about the legacy he will leave behind, he said: “I just want to be remembered as a local lad who’s come and given everything he’s got and given the fans some good times.
“Playing here at Anfield was always my dream growing up as a young boy. My team-mates, the day-to-day connections, that’s what I will miss.”