Liverpool legend Dirk Kuyt says Steven Gerrard was the greatest player he ever lined up with – and he’s backing him to excel as a manager too.
Gerrard, 37, has accepted the task of reviving Rangers, with the chance to pit his wits against ex-Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers in the SPL cauldron of Glasgow.
And Kuyt, the Dutchman who spent six years playing alongside the former England midfielder at Anfield, reckons the professionalism Gerrard showed when he was one of the world’s top players, will stand him in good stead at Ibrox.
Kuyt, who has been given a boost by the news that Gerrard has agreed to play in his testimonial later this month, said: “Steven Gerrard is the greatest I have ever played with in my life.
“I have learnt so much from him. He is an absolute icon – and I am sure he is going to be a great manager too.”
Gerrard built his reputation as a Reds captain who always led by example.
But Kuyt revealed that Gerrard’s mental strength and positive attitude were his most impressive assets – even when he was dropped from the team.
Kuyt recalled: “I will give you a fine example.
“At Liverpool we would have a list of the squad for the next match hanging up on the wall in the dressing room. In those days you were only allowed 16 players. Eleven starting players and five substitutes.
“In one league match I played in, I looked at the list while Gerrard was standing next to me.
“He looked at the list and did not see his name on it, so he just grabbed his stuff and said ‘boys, I wish you a lot of luck tomorrow.’
“And he was gone.
“He showed no emotion. No shouting, no swearing, no slamming of doors.
“He just went home and the next time he was back for training the first thing he did was congratulate all the players for getting three points.
“He then went to train incredibly hard, already focusing on the next match.”
Kuyt, 37, is now hoping to follow Gerrard by moving into coaching and management.
Gerrard spent a year in charge of Liverpool’s Under-18s team before accepting the Rangers job.
And Kuyt is now studying for his UEFA coaching badges and will work with Feyenoord’s Under-19s team next season.
Kuyt added: “I learnt so much from Gerrard.
“We all get moments of disappointment in our career. We all expect to play, but never show disappointment when you don’t.
“Use that energy in a good way and if you have anger, let it come out on the pitch in your next match.
“If you want to achieve things, you have to create it together, no matter how big a star you are.
“Gerrard was an absolute giant as a player and he also had the individual class to decide matches.”
Kuyt’s testimonial is on May 27, less than 24 hours after Liverpool face Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
He has hired a jet to deliver Gerrard and Jamie Carragher from Kiev to Rotterdam for a game that will also feature the Holland teams of 2010 and 2014.