FORMER Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso believes Steven Gerrard will go down in history as one of football’s all-time legends.
The Spaniard has paid a warm tribute to his ex-Anfield team-mate who clocked up his 600th appearance for the Reds in last Sunday’s draw with Newcastle United.
Real Madrid star Alonso, who lined up alongside Gerrard between 2004 and 2009, says he has been inspired by the Liverpool captain’s achievements.
“He’ll absolutely be remembered as one of the greats,” said Alonso.
“For me he is already one of the greats. His name and Liverpool’s name will always be linked and he’s a great representative of the club and the city.
“There are so many things. He is so inspirational. In the key moments he has that different thing, that spark that is difficult to define.
“He has achieved great things and in very important moments he has been the man for Liverpool. We had great European nights and he was the main man. For me he’s a great player. Hopefully he will reach 700 games.”
Success on the international stage has eluded Gerrard, who is expected to win his 100th England cap against Sweden next week.
However, Alonso insists he has the class to walk into any team – including the dominant Spain side who followed up winning the World Cup by triumphing at Euro 2012.
“He could play in any national team in the world because he has so many great qualities,” Alonso added.
“He is flexible. He can play at the English pace or he can associate with the ball very well.
“He is a very intelligent player, so he could play anywhere – not just any national team but any club in the world. But he has been a one-club man and that’s something I really admire.”
Alonso developed a friendship with Gerrard during his time at Anfield and three years after his return to Spain the pair remain close. He said: “We are great friends and we still keep in touch. He was a great influence to me. When I arrived at Liverpool I was 22 and he was the captain, he was the main man at the club.
“For me he was a reference, the way he behaved with his teammates and with the supporters as well. I learned a lot from him. As a captain he has embraced all the responsibilities of being a captain and he’s the perfect captain for Liverpool, not just because he’s a great player but because he represents the values of the club.”