Liverpool return to Wembley for the first time since 1996 in Sunday’s League Cup final against Cardiff City with captain Steven Gerrard relishing a long overdue appearance at the home of English soccer in his club shirt.
Gerrard has played many times at Wembley in England colours, both in front of the famous twin towers and under the re-built venue’s arch, but all his domestic cup final appearances for Liverpool were played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Since the re-opening of Wembley in 2007 Liverpool have fallen off the pace, meaning the inspirational Gerrard has never experienced a domestic showpiece at the gleaming venue.
“Every time I played for Liverpool at Cardiff and led the team out there, there was a bit of me thinking ‘if only this was Wembley’,” Gerrard, who won the League Cup in 2001 and 2003 and the FA Cup in 2001 and 2006, told the club website (www.liverpoolfc.tv).
“Don’t get me wrong, we had some great days in Cardiff and I’ve got some fantastic memories of playing at the Millennium. But I’d have preferred to have won those trophies at Wembley.
“To finally get the chance to achieve that with Liverpool will be amazing.”
Liverpool are bidding for an eighth League Cup but Cardiff, the first Welsh side to reach the final, will not be taken lightly by Kenny Dalglish’s side, having reached the FA Cup final in 2008 when they lost to Portsmouth.
“Cardiff are dangerous opposition. It’s the game of their lives. They will raise their game and they will perform at a level they haven’t performed at before,” Gerrard said.
“If our standards slip then we’ll be in for a tough afternoon. We’ve got one giant hurdle left to get over.”
Cardiff, making their fourth visit to Wembley in five years including an FA Cup semi-final and a Championship playoff final which they lost to Blackpool, will also have a Gerrard in their ranks as they try to cause an upset.
Anthony Gerrard, the cousin of the England international, is expected to be at the heart of Cardiff’s defence.
“If push comes to shove, one-on-one, with us winning 1-0, then I think he knows he’s getting taken down,” the 26-year-old told the BBC. “I’ve never played against him before and to do it at a League Cup final is a bit extraordinary.”