Gerrard v Gerrard: Liverpool skipper Steven and his Cardiff star cousin Anthony on the Carling Cup Final
Published 21:31 24/02/12 By Neil McLeman & David Maddock
The week his cousin led Liverpool to the miracle of Istanbul, Anthony Gerrard was living the more mundane reality of a professional footballer, writes Neil McLeman .
“When Steven lifted the Champions League, I was in Cancun, crying into a beer after getting released by Everton,” recalled Cardiff defender Anthony. “I was just trying to get away from football in general.
“I was heartbroken. I was the last person, sitting in the canteen on my own.
"I went in to see the manager to hear him say, ‘No’.
“You then have to go and get into your car, drive home and tell your mum and dad that things have not panned out as well as you would have liked them after having a great season.
"It was a bit of a kick in the gonads. You have to go away and re-evaluate your life.”
But rejection by his hometown's other club did not end this Gerrard’s career.
He will just arrive at Wembley on Sunday to face his cousin and Liverpool in the Carling Cup Final via a different route - one where a famous name counts for nothing.
“If you want to achieve something in your career, you just can’t take no for an answer,” insisted the 26-year-old, who relaunched his career at Walsall. “I don’t like the word no. If someone gets in your way, you have got to step around them.
"When you fall away from the top teams, it is a hard road back. You have to go and earn your medals.
"When you play in Leagues One and Two, you have got to fight and scrap. You do that by getting knocked out in places like Boston, when you get carried off on a stretcher and left in A&E for an hour.
"I could have gone to university or done a lot of things. But when you have a dream, you just can’t give up on it.”
The dream was born as Anthony played football with his older cousin Steven on the streets of Liverpool.
“Every time he had a game going on, he would drag me out,” he said. “My nan used to have to come out and tell them to go easy on me.”
Now the two, who have been exchanging texts this week, will meet at the home of football in front of 80 Liverpool-supporting family and friends.
“I have dreamt about this moment plenty of times but I have always been wearing a Liverpool shirt,” said Liverpool fan Anthony, who joined Cardiff in 2009 but spent last season on loan at Hull.
“We will have to get the hug out the way well beforehand, and away from everyone else. I keep saying it will be a bittersweet day.”
And while family is family, business is business.
“If he goes through one-on-one in the last minute and we are winning, I am going to take him out!” the younger Gerrard promised.
“Let’s be honest, he has got too many winner's medals! If this is my only chance to get a winner's medal, I have got to take that opportunity. He would do exactly the same.
“We are born and bred winners. You don’t achieve what he has done by settling for second best.
"Istanbul tells you everything about him. His whole presence strikes fear into the opponents. He leads by example and drives Liverpool on as a club.
“It won’t surprise me if he is still there [at Liverpool] at 65. If he wins, he will be over the moon. On the other hand, he might have a little bit of admiration for his little cousin taking the plaudits.”
Whatever the result, Anthony will not leave north London empty-handed.
“It is my first final and I am going to milk it for all its worth,” he said. “I’ll have to hide his shirt. They will all want it but there’s no need for them to be greedy.
"There's Bellers, Suarez et cetera, but the Steven Gerrard one is mine.”
There is not much that Steven Gerrard has yet to achieve in his career, writes David Maddock .
But Sunday will be the first time he has faced a relation on the opposition.
The Liverpool's skipper admits it will be a divided family at Wembley as he and cousin Anthony, the Cardiff defender, go head to head.
"I suppose the family will be split - we'll be in different ends. He gets tickets, I get mine and I think there will be about 80 people going down between us," revealed the Anfield hero.
"We are quite close, so it will be strange. I've never played against a relation before, but I'm looking forward to it, and I'm really pleased for him.
"He was at Everton, and a lot of kids who get close to the first team, you never hear of them again because when they get released by a big club they believe it's the end.
"Anthony had the attitude and determination to come back, so credit to him.
"Mind you, I still want to send him home on the losing side!"
The pair have been on the phone this week, swapping stories and texts, and no doubt Liverpool's captain will have reminded his cousin about the time he received football lessons from a very skilled coach!
"We used to have a kick bout at my nan and grandad's house. I lived in the same road as them and he was there most weekends or after school. My dad and his dad are brothers," Steven explained.
"I'm five or six years older than him, but I knew from a young age he was going to be a good player.
"I used to have a kickabout with him from when he was about four to 10 or 12, and he was really good. Everton picked him up really quickly so I knew he had a really good chance.
"He loved footy and every time he had a chance to play, he was out there with the lads, who were bigger than him as well. He's a tough kid. He's from Huyton as well.
"We've spoken a lot. He was on to me finding how many tickets we got allocated, because I don't think he was happy with his.
"But if he's got any spares I can use them!"