The GOAT debate by now should be the most famous question ever asked in the football world, and one of which every football fan, player, manager and ex-player has had to answer.
But for Liverpool hero, Steven Gerrard, perhaps he is the exception as the Al-Ettifaq manager has the luxury of answering the question twice, and getting to pick a different GOAT on each occasion.
The former Aston Villa boss appears to have shifted his view on the enduring debate between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the title of the greatest of all time (GOAT).
Just a year after expressing his unequivocal preference for Messi, Gerrard seems to have reconsidered his stance.
Last year, in an interview on The Overlap YouTube channel, the 43-year-old, then managing Rangers, proclaimed, “It’s Lionel Messi for me.”
Steven Gerrard was effusive in his praise for Ronaldo as well, acknowledging the Portuguese superstar’s phenomenal abilities.
He emphasized that both Messi and Ronaldo stood out in his football era, marveling at their extraordinary achievements and suggesting that replicating their numbers might be an improbable feat.
Since that discussion at the Aston Villa training ground, Gerrard’s career trajectory has seen significant changes.
He has assumed the managerial role at Saudi Pro League club Al Ettifaq, reportedly becoming one of the highest-paid managers globally with a staggering £15.2 million annual contract.
His relocation to the Middle East coincided with Cristiano Ronaldo’s move, and it appears this shift has influenced Gerrard’s perspective on the GOAT conversation.
In a recent interview with the Saudi Pro League, Gerrard spoke about Ronaldo’s arrival, labeling him “The GOAT” and acknowledging the substantial impact Ronaldo’s transfer had on the league’s prominence.
“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.”
Steven Gerrard reflected on his observation of Ronaldo’s performance from a distance for six months and the subsequent influx of renowned talents and players into the league.
He admitted that during his hiatus from active coaching, he closely monitored developments in the league and contemplated opportunities in the Gulf region when his agent presented them.
“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.”
Expressing his excitement about the Al Ettifaq proposition, Gerrard highlighted the club’s passionate board, recognizing the challenging task ahead in rebuilding the team.
He emphasized the necessity of time for such an undertaking, particularly considering the club’s seventh-place finish in the league, far adrift from the top four.
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