Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard announces retirement from football

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has announced his retirement from football at the age of 36 after leaving LA Galaxy.

The former England international, who came through Liverpool's Academy after joining at the age of nine, made 710 appearances and scored 186 goals across a 17-year Anfield career - winning eight major trophies.

Gerrard left the Reds at the expiry of his contract in the summer of 2015, spending the final two seasons in Major League Soccer with LA Galaxy - scoring five goals but failing to help the club to any silverware.

Gerrard hails 'wonderful highlights' of his career

In an official statement, he insisted that he had enjoyed "an incredible career" and said he was "thankful for each and every moment" at Liverpool, England and LA Galaxy.

He said that he "could never have imagined what would follow" after fulfilling his "childhood dream" by making his debut in the "famous red shirt" of Liverpool in November 1998.

Gerrard continued: "I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career. 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 honours back to Anfield, none more so than that famous night in Istanbul."

He also touched upon his time playing for England, insisting he was "privileged" and had "the honour" of captaining his country - on which he looks back with "great pride."

Gerrard expressed his thanks to Liverpool for all he achieved there, calling himself "lucky to play alongside some great players and under some fantastic managers" at Anfield, adding that he "would like to thank each and every one of them."

He also spoke of his gratitude to "the amazing fans of Liverpool, England and LA Galaxy" for their "incredible backing" over the last 18 years because their "loyalty and support has meant the world."

"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'm 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."

What next for Gerrard?

Injuries hampered Gerrard's time in the States, limiting him to 34 appearances, and he left the Galaxy after playing his final game for them at the start of November.

Rumours suggested that he would look to prolong his career, with Celtic and Newcastle United among the clubs reportedly interested in offering him deals, before he emerged as a candidate for the vacant MK Dons job.

Gerrard held talks with the League One club, but after being offered the position, turned it down as he said that the opportunity came "too soon" for him.

That, and his subsequent retirement, leaves the door open for the Huyton-born former midfielder to make an emotional return to his boyhood club as a coach.

Gerrard is currently working towards earning his UEFA A coaching licence, the second-highest qualification possible, while he also has a pundity role for BT Sport for Champions League games.

Gerrard will go down as one of his generation's best

Gerrard retires as his country's fourth most-capped player and also as the third-highest appearance maker for Liverpool, behind Jamie Carragher and Ian Callaghan.

His goalscoring tally at Anfield also sees him as the fifth-highest scorer in the club's history, ahead of the likes of Robbie Fowler and Kenny Dalglish, while he has more European goals (41) than any other player at the club.

But he will be best remembered for his countless heroics on the grandest of stages, particularly the 2006 FA Cup final - also known as 'the Gerrard final' - and the unforgettable 'Miracle of Istanbul' Champions League final of 2005.

The latter personified much of his Liverpool career, as he near single-handedly helped drag the club to a fifth European Cup having trailed 3-0 to a star-studded AC Milan team at half-time in Turkey's capital.

That, in addition to three League Cups, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup, marks him as one of the most successful Liverpool players in the modern era - despite the club being deprived of domestic success.

His list of records and individual honours too is plentiful, including 2006 PFA Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or Bronze Award and UEFA Club Footballer of the Year both in 2005, to being named Man of the Match in those Champions League and FA Cup winning finals.

Also included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year eight times and being the club's Player of the Season and top goalscorer four times, Gerrard remains the only player to have scored in the finals of the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League.

His abundance of magnificent goals and assists, sublime match-winning performances and the loyalty has showed to the club - turning down the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and most famously Chelsea - to stay at Liverpool.

Gerrard's legacy sees him go down as the club's best-ever player to many, best summed up by a banner which adorned the Kop on his final home game in May 2015: "The best there was, the best there is, the best there ever will be."