Steven Gerrard was heralded as Liverpool's “greatest player ever” by team-mate Jamie Carragher as the England captain was honoured by the Football Writers' Association at a gala tribute dinner in London.
The 32-year-old midfielder collected the prestigious accolade from FWA chairman Andy Dunn, of the Sunday Mirror. Tributes were paid by former manager Gerard Houllier, who brought Gerrard into the Liverpool first team as a raw youngster, and his long-serving team-mate Carragher, while former Reds boss Kenny Dalglish also passed on his congratulations as he was unable to attend.
Carragher is in no doubt of Gerrard's place among Anfield legends.
"I think we are in the presence of the greatest player ever to play for Liverpool," said Carragher.
"People will say I am biased because we are good friends and because of the trophies we have won together, but it is a fair accolade to give him.
"There are guys like Kenny [Dalglish], Graeme Souness, Ian Rush, all world-class players, but the difference was they were in a world-class team - and Stevie has not played in a world-class team."
Carragher added: "Stevie's one strength is he has no weakness, he can run, tackle pass and score goals.
"Football is a team game, but special players do special things at special times, and that is Steven Gerrard."
Former Liverpool striker Rush and England manager Roy Hodgson were among the guests at The Savoy, along with current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
Gerrard, 32, was voted FWA Footballer of the Year in 2009 and was touched to have been recognised for his achievements once again.
"Tonight's award means a lot because these guys have followed me throughout my career, written about me whenever I have played," he said at last night's tribute. "To receive this award from the Football Writers' Association is a very proud night for myself and my family. I feel very flattered and humbled to receive it.
"I have always looked at personal awards a bit of a bonus really. I always try to achieve things with Liverpool or fight to do well for England.
"But when you talk about awards of people like the supporters or people in the press who watch you week in and week out, scrutinise your performances, these mean an awful lot because these guys know their football."
Gerrard has played in every minute of all of Liverpool's Barclays Premier League matches this season, scoring in Saturday's 5-0 demolition of Norwich at Anfield, which saw the Reds move a small step closer to the top four.
The veteran midfielder has also now chalked up 100 international caps as he looks to lead Hodgson's team on through to qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"It is a special year - the 150th anniversary for the FA as well, so there are some really big fixtures to look forwards to," Gerrard added.
"We are halfway through a World Cup qualifying campaign, so hopefully at the end of the season it can be a success for Liverpool to achieve something, and also make it through to the finals in Brazil with England."
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- Gerard Houllier
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- Kenny Dalglish
- Liverpool FC
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- Roy Hodgson
- The Sunday Mirror