Steven Gerrard has insisted that he is prepared to play the part of the villain when he returns to Liverpool as manager of Aston Villa on Saturday.
Gerrard made 710 appearances for the Reds and is widely considered one of their best players of all time.
This will be the first time that he will compete at Anfield as Liverpool’s opponent, and while he understands why there is a big fuss regarding his return, he would be happy to head home as the enemy of the day as long as Villa take the points.
“I really respect and understand the noise around the game for obvious reasons because I’m going back to a club where I spent many years,” Gerrard said at his press conference on Friday.
“It brings a smile to my face for a couple of reasons. One because I’ve obviously got a good relationship with a lot of people at the club, I had a fantastic time there, a really good journey.
“I’m a local boy and it was the team I supported growing up and I always will support that team. Of course I will.
“But at the same time it brings a smile to my face because I’ve got the opportunity to go there and compete against a good team with a good manager with the opportunity to try and win the game and that’s my only main focus.
“I think the noise is for other people to get excited about. For me, it’s about preparing the team in the best way I can to try and get a positive result for Aston Villa and that’s the way I will be.
“Everyone in that stadium will know me well enough to know what I’m about and what I’m going to Anfield for. For everyone else, it’s a massive occasion. For me, it’s three points.
“‘It’s a big game of football and it’s 90 minutes we need to focus on. We’re a good team, we’ve got top players, we’re a threat and we want to make it as difficult as we can for Liverpool.
“If I’m on the bus heading back down the M6 towards Birmingham and I’m not the most popular at Anfield, so be it.”