It appears Steven Gerrard has changed his mind in the never-ending Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi GOAT debate, just a year after he made his feelings known during an interview with Gary Neville.
The 43-year-old former Rangers and Aston Villa manager, who is currently in charge at Saudi Pro League side Al Ettifaq, gave his thoughts on the greatest of all time topic last year on YouTube channelThe Overlap.
When asked for his thoughts on the GOAT, Gerrard said: “It’s Lionel Messi for me. But I’m someone who would never have a derogatory word to say about Ronaldo, because he is phenomenal.”
He added: “They’re the two in my era that were just…wow. When you’re a footballer and you’ve done it yourself, the numbers are just… I’m not sure that’s going to happen again.”
Since taking part in that chat at the Aston Villa training ground, a lot has changed for Gerrard.
“I think when the GOAT, as we call him, arrived in January, it was a huge deal, and he still has a lot to offer in football. After the arrival of Cristiano the popularity of the league increased & all the big players moved to Saudi.”
— CristianoXtra (@CristianoXtra_) November 18, 2023
He has since become the fourth-highest paid manager in world football after accepting an eye-watering £15.2 million a-year offer from Al Ettifaq.
And after joining Cristiano Ronaldo in the Middle East this summer, it seems the former Liverpool midfielder has had a change of heart in regards to the greatest of all time debate.
Speaking to theSaudi Pro Leaguein a recent interview, he said: “The arrival of ‘The GOAT’ as we call him, Cristiano (Ronaldo), him arriving in January obviously (was) a huge signing.
“He still had a lot of football to offer. So, from afar, for six months, I was looking in at Cristiano Ronaldo’s results, at the league, watching some games and watching some highlights.
“I think from that moment, the league around the world had become a very popular talking point for everyone. After Cristiano’s arrival, even more big-name signings, talents and skill sets were joining the league.
“At the time it coincided with me being out of the game and looking for my next opportunity, so I was fascinated from afar looking in.
“When my agent brought a couple of opportunities in the gulf area at the time, I was fascinated to explore them.”
Gerrard added: “The Ettifaq proposal and opportunity was the most exciting for me because I’ve signed up to a club where the board are very passionate.
“They understand where the club is at, they understand it’s something that’s going to need building, and it’s going to take time.
“That’s the reason why I was very interested to analyse this one, because in my job you need time. Especially when a club has finished seventh in the league and so many points behind the top four.
“That’s not an easy fix; it’s not something you fix in a week, a month, or six months. It’s a project to build on the pitch, which is obviously the priority, but also a lot of things needed to change around it to give the first team the support it needs.”
The former Liverpool midfielder also opened up on the controversial arrival of Jordan Henderson in the summer.
“I think when you’re the coach, the manager, you want players going into games that can be an extended version of the staff,” he added.
“People, who can really help on-pitch coaching; where the team needs to be in terms of distances, to make on-field decisions. Myself and Jordan (Henderson) we have that trust. We played together and he’s a fantastic player still, a fantastic human being.
“For us, to execute that signing was key and very important and I think a lot of the other signings we made came on the back of Jordan agreeing to come here. I think he wanted to still play, I think that was the key.
“He was at Liverpool at the time, he’s had a fantastic career, he’s achieved everything at that club, he’s been a fantastic servant to Liverpool Football Club. And when we knew it was a possibility.
“I wanted to be aggressive and wanted that to be my first signing, because for me it was a no-brainer.”