This article originally appeared in Future Sport magazine. Click here to read the 2020 edition.

Widely regarded as one of the best players of the Premier League era, Steven Gerrard turned heads when he was unveiled as the boss of Rangers in 2018. Tasked with knocking fierce rivals Celtic off their perch, Gerrard knows he’s got a huge job on his hands, but one that could earn hero status in the blue half of the city. Future Sport travelled to Glasgow to chat to Gerrard about his time in Scotland so far, the transition from player to coach and what makes a leader…

Not many players land one of the biggest jobs in British football at the start of their management career. Then again, not many players are Steven Gerrard.

A lauded leader on and off the pitch during an 18-year playing career at Liverpool, it was only ever a matter of when, not if, he would be offered the chance to lead a big club.

It would be fair to suggest, however, that a few eyebrows were raised when he landed in Scotland. Many expected Gerrard to take over a side in the Championship, or even sit tight and wait for Jurgen Klopp to finish his project at Liverpool before taking over at Anfield.

As a club who’ve spent the last decade in a perpetual state of despair, Glasgow Rangers didn’t seem to be the most obvious choice of club for someone cutting their teeth in the management game.

“The job probably came a bit too soon in terms of my plan,” Gerrard explains. “But sometimes you’ve got to go off plan, sometimes you’ve got to take a risk or a gamble which I’m not afraid of.”

However, during Future Sport’s exclusive chat with Gerrard at the Rangers Training Centre, it’s clear why the challenge of unseating a dominant Celtic as Scotland’s number one side appeals to him.

“It’s so important to never stand still,” he says. “I always had that attitude as a player. When coming into my 30s I was always looking to improve all parts of my game, and I want to continue that mentality as a manager.”

Gerrard made his debut for Liverpool at 18, taking the armband just five years later. Widely considered the greatest player to ever pull on the famous red shirt, it’s almost certain that he’ll be in charge at Anfield before too long. Before moving to Glasgow though, he spent time looking after Liverpool’s under-18s where he learnt a few lessons very quickly.

“The important thing for me going from player to coach was to park the ego of being a player,” Gerrard explains. “I had to understand that I wasn’t Steven Gerrard the player any more, I had to start from the beginning.”

It was the perfect place to work out the manager he wanted to become. He added: “I loved going in to coach these boys and seeing them develop. I was developing myself too, so making mistakes away from the cameras was key for me, as was being able to get things wrong.”

When Gerrard was unveiled at Ibrox, the club was still recovering from their time in the lower leagues following years of financial mismanagement. But despite the grey cloud that has hung over the club in recent times, the job of a Rangers boss is simple: beat Celtic. So there was something poetic that in the opposite dugout for Gerrard’s first Old Firm match was Brendan Rodgers, the last manager he played for at Anfield. And despite playing under a number of inspirational figures at Liverpool, Gerrard knows that even the best never stop honing their skills and learning their trade.

 “I think there’s probably only a dozen managers ever who can say they can’t learn anymore, like the Fergusons and Wengers of this world,” he says. “But for me I want to have the attitude where I don’t want to think that I’ve hit my ceiling. I want to continue to push the boundaries and improve and grow.”

Passionately, and eager to learn, Gerrard adds: “There’s so much and so many parts to being a manager and there’s always somewhere you can gain that extra one percent. It could be a different language, it could be on-pitch experience, it could be man management – there are so many different parts to being a manger.”

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Gerrard put in one his greatest performances for Liverpool in the 2006 FA Cup final.

Gerrard’s leadership skills were clear from the start, and ultimately led him to captaining his country at Euro 2012 and the World Cup in 2014. With 114 caps for England, Gerrard is fourth on the all-time list of players to represent his country. He was a player who led through example, as West Ham and AC Milan will attest to. So his thoughts on leadership are as accurate as his passing.

“The key to it, whether you’re a player or manger, is always trying to set that example,” he says. “I think a lot of people, supporters and players look to you as a leader and they look at your behaviour and standards. A lot of people follow in football and will go with you if you do the right things.”

Naturally through leadership comes the ability to create a setting where players and staff can thrive, something which throughout his playing career Gerrard can more than claim to have influenced. You’d be hard pushed to find a Liverpool fan who’d argue that their Champions League and FA Cup success in 2005 and 2006 respectively would have been possible without Gerrard grabbing those games, and one presumes his teammates, by the scruff of the neck.

This is something he’s now taken into the dugout in Glasgow, making the point that it’s vital to create a space where players and staff enjoy their job. He explained: “I think if you create a place where people get in the car every morning and are excited about coming to work then that’s where the magic happens.”

He adds: “It doesn’t matter what role you have; if you’re enjoying your work then you want to do it right and you want to improve and grow. You feel part of the culture and you feel part of the end game, which is winning matches.”

Ultimately that’s what Gerrard, just like any other manager, will be judged on – winning matches. And if he wins in the blue half of Glasgow, then the red side of Merseyside might just have to share their idol.