Gerrard - a talented player used to life in the spotlight

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The Independent Online

As one of the world's most talented footballers, Steven Gerrard is well used to living in the limelight.

The England and Liverpool FC dynamo sprang to prominence at an early age and quickly had to get used to the attention.

Marked out by coaches as a potential star, the 29-year-old made his professional debut for Liverpool when he was just 18 as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers.

A year later, national team boss Kevin Keegan invited the gangly youngster to train with the England squad.

Twelve months on, a day after his 20th birthday, he made his England debut against Ukraine.

But his early career was slowed by a series of back and groin injuries.

Now a cultured and mature performer, it took Gerrard several years to end a run of picking up red cards for senseless, full-blooded tackles.

In April, it emerged that it was around this time in the Huyton Hammer's career that his father Paul turned to an underworld fixer to stop a Liverpool gangster terrorising his son.

The thug was threatening to shoot Gerrard in the legs and trying to extort large sums of money from him.

Giving evidence at a court hearing, Mr Gerrard Senior said Liverpool FC provided extra security and he also contacted police during a two-year reign of terror.

Gerrard, who once dated Liverpudlian actress Jennifer Ellison, married model and fashion writer Alex Curran in June 2007.

They have two daughters, Lilly-Ella and Lexie.

In December 2007 Gerrard had a brush with the law when his wife was held captive by masked men during a robbery at their home in Formby, Merseyside.

Four men wearing balaclavas raided the property and stole jewellery as the couple's two young daughters slept upstairs.

Gerrard was told the news as he left the pitch after leading his team to victory against Marseille in the Champions League.

Ms Curran was herself questioned by police following a fight at the Shangri-La restaurant in Liverpool in August 2006. No charges were brought.

In 2006 Gerrard was named the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year to add to a host of silverware including a Champions League winner's medal, an FA Cup triumph, a Uefa Cup winner's gong and a League Cup winner's medal.

Gerrard has been capped by England 70 times and has captained his country on four occasions. He has scored more than 100 goals for the Reds and this year won the much-coveted Football Writers' Player of the Year.