Gerrard reveals depths of his injury hell
Published 22:00 18/10/11 By David Maddock
Steven Gerrard has revealed for the first time how he feared that he was finished at the top level.
The Liverpool skipper ended a seven-month injury nightmare with a glorious goal-scoring return to the starting XI against arch-rivals Manchester United at the weekend.
Yet in the wake of the jubilation of that moment, the England star admitted such a spectacular comeback was from far from his thoughts in the darkness of the preceding months, when he hit the lowest point of his career.
During that period, when Gerrard underwent groin surgery, and was then hospitalised again after a serious infection set in, the Anfield captain began to wonder if would ever return to his best.
"When I got the injury, I knew it was going to be a serious one, something I wasn't used to - and I'll admit I was down, as low as I've ever been as a footballer," he confessed.
"I think it's only natural that you have doubts. Different things cross your mind from time to time.
"I was fighting to get fit, just to get out on the pitch. I was trying to put my body on the line, but it wasn't the real me and I wasn't the player I want to be."
The all-action midfielder has suffered with groin problems throughout his career, but he admits none were as bad as the injury he endured last season.
Even before he broke down completely, in a game against Manchester United in March, Gerrard was in such a state physically that he could barely walk, never mind train properly.
"Before the operation, I'd been getting niggles and having injections to play. Basically I knew I wasn't right," he explained.
"I was missing training sessions and coming in the day before a game trying to get that last session in, or having injections to play the next day.
"You can only do that for a certain amount of time before your body gives in, and mine gave in. My groin packed in on me and when it happened I was down and I was low.
"It probably wasn't until I got off the crutches that I started being really positive again.
"I could see I was progressing day by day, and when that happens your positivity creeps back in. Without a doubt, the last six months have been the hardest of my career."
Gerrard, 31, has been in forthright mood since his return to action, and his admission that he feared he wouldn't be able to operate at his usual, elevated level is probably behind that.
The player has been subjected to some surprising criticism in recent days, following allegations in a newly-published book by Reds keeper Pepe Reina that the captain, along with Jamie Carragher, didn't speak out against the previous owners at Anfield.
Reina claimed he was the only one in the dressing room to call for Tom Hicks and George Gillett to sell up - and said he wanted to leave because of the direction the club was taking under the pair.
His revelations have produced an undercurrent of criticism from some of Reds supporters, and that is known to have angered both Gerrard and Carragher, because it ignores the facts behind the situation.
Now, Gerrard has revealed he had considered speaking out, but was expressly told not to by the then-manager Rafa Benitez.
"I asked him if I should say something. He told me to leave it to him," said Gerrard. "When a situation like that happens, I don't think it's the players' responsibility to step in.
"If me and Jamie had a go at them [Hicks and Gillett], I don't think the owners were going to say, 'Okay, we'll sell the club £100m cheaper.'"