After an illustrious playing career full of remarkable cup comebacks, former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard has announced his retirement from professional football.
The 36-year-old Gerrard, who won every major club honor with Liverpool apart from the English title, said Thursday he was retiring from soccer after an 18-year professional career.
"You are aware that time is coming towards the end, the body starts talking to you," the former England captain told British broadcaster BT. "The pains and the aches get more regular. The way you feel out there on the pitch changes.
"Over the last couple of years I've felt myself slowing down a little bit and I basically can't deliver what I used to be able to deliver and that becomes a little frustrating as time goes on."
Gerrard was one of the best midfielders of his era and won admiration for staying loyal to his boyhood club and resisting the riches offered by Premier League rivals.
He only left Liverpool in 2015 after no longer being able to reach the formidable levels of his peak years and losing his place in the team. The final two seasons of his career were seen out with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
There were inevitably frustrations during such a long career, so often on international duty while captaining England at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and the 2012 European Championship. England didn't progress beyond the first knockout round in those three tournaments as the team's performances never matched the hype and expectation that Gerrard sought to temper as a cool leader.
With Liverpool, Gerrard came agonizingly close in 2014 to finally landing the one club prize that eluded him: The Premier League title. Adding to the anguish, Gerrard's own slip against Chelsea contributed to a 2-0 loss that ended up costing Liverpool the title as Manchester City emerged victorious.
"It drove me mad for a few nights, a few weeks," Gerrard said at the time. "It was a big moment and went against me."
But there were so many moments that went Gerrard's way.
The biggest of them all came in Istanbul in the 2005 Champions League final. Trailing 3-0 at halftime against AC Milan, Liverpool was facing humiliation until Gerrard scored to begin a comeback that culminated in the club's fifth European title — won on penalty kicks.
A year later in the FA Cup final, Liverpool was trailing 3-2 heading into stoppage time until Gerrard pounced with a long-range equalizer. Just like in the European final, the FA Cup was collected by winning a penalty shootout.
"I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career," Gerrard said in a statement. "I am proud to have played over 700 games for Liverpool, many of which as captain, and to have played my part in helping the club to bring major honors back to Anfield, none more so than that famous night in Istanbul."
Liverpool's scouts spotted Gerrard's talent as an 8-year-old and he went on to score 186 goals in 710 first-team appearances.
Gerrard, who also made 114 appearances for England, now has a decision to make about his next job.
"I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be," Gerrard said. "I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon."
Gerrard was in talks about becoming manager of third-tier club MK Dons last week but decided that vacancy came a "bit too soon."
"I definitely have dreams and aspirations of having a go at management or assisting the manager and being back involved in the dressing room," Gerrard said. "But I've got many, many years to do that."