"It doesn't matter who scores the goals so long as we win."
—Steven Gerrard, Liverpool Football Club, MF
When looking at the stat sheet after participating in a sporting event, only one column really counts. [Hint: it's not the points.]
Getting the W is all that matters; as cliché as it sounds, there is no I in team. The crew that plays together will likely win together. True team players set their egos aside and sacrifice themselves for the glory of the team. It doesn't matter how many points, goals or touchdowns you score; if your team is not winning games, something's got to change.
Yes, scouts and recruiters love athletes who can put points on the board, but not if they are hurting their teams. For example, a basketball player scores 35 points, but dishes no assists, plays weak defense and the team loses by three. A few quick passes to open teammates could have changed the outcome and demonstrated that the scorer was also a team player.
Basketball and soccer differ in many ways, but the concept of team play is the same on the court and the pitch. And nobody this century has sacrificed more for the glory of his club than the lad from Liverpool, Steven Gerrard.
Since 1997, Gerrard has worn the L.F.C. crest on his chest, playing for the hometown club that he grew up watching. More than a decade later, he's a living legend, and the Kop [Liverpool supporters] worship him—not because he scores lots of goals and not because his club wins every game, but because in every game he plays (more than 500), Gerrard does everything he can to create opportunities for his teammates.
Controlling the pitch and setting up teammates for success has always been Stevie G's MO at Anfield. Like all great leaders, he makes less talented teammates shine. This ability has earned him the captain's badge for both club and country.
Gerrard's greatest accomplishment as a leader came during the 2005 Champions League final against A.C. Milan. With L.F.C. down three-nil, he led a second-half comeback with a goal, earned a PK and sparked his team to victory during the shootout. Many have declared it the greatest comeback in soccer history.
Although Steven Gerrard has scored more than 130 goals for his club, he never forgets what it means to be a team player. He takes pride in putting on the red kit whenever he steps foot on the pitch.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock