'Liverpool aren't in the Champions League to make up the numbers', claims captain Steven Gerrard

Reds return to Europe for the first time in four years this season and Gerrard is determined to go as far as possible

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The Independent Football

Captain Steven Gerrard insists Liverpool will not just "make up the numbers" on their long-awaited return to the Champions League.

The five-time winners will end a four-year absence when they rejoin Europe's elite by hosting Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets at Anfield on Tuesday.

However, while it has been a long wait for a club with such a rich European history, Gerrard was at pains to stress they have no intention of entering the competition merely grateful just to be there.

"We can't wait to get going. It is so exciting as we worked really hard last season to get into the top four and now we get rewarded for that by being in the Champions League this year," said the 34-year-old.


"Certainly we are not there to make up the numbers. We want to do well, try to progress as far as we can but enjoy it as well.

"You are almost jealous and envious of the players who have been playing in it over the years when we have missed out.

"It is going to be tough as there are some fantastic teams in it, but it is very important we stay in it by doing well in the league this season."

Gerrard is synonymous with Liverpool's fifth and most recent Champions League victory in 2005 when, against the odds, they overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit to beat AC Milan on penalties in Turkey.

The midfielder sparked the fightback with a header early in the second half and he admits it was the pinnacle of his career.

"Istanbul was the greatest night by a country mile," he told Radio City.

"It was a surreal evening and a surreal game of football and still to this day it is difficult to describe what happened on that night.

"But it was also the whole journey in that season in the Champions League, with so many ups and down. We managed to get over the line, but we didn't do it the easy way.

"If you had said to me at 18 years of age you will win the Champions League at 25 and 10 years later you will being doing interviews as a Champions League winner I'd have said 'Good one, no chance'.

"Looking back it is a fantastic memory personally and for everyone connected with the club."