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Jamie Redknapp says he had to convince Gerard Houllier on “unbelievable” Steven Gerrard

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Jamie Redknapp claims he had to convince Gerard Houllier that Steven Gerrard was “different class” – as his boss had his eye on another Liverpool youngster.

Gerrard was coming through the youth ranks at Melwood when Redknapp was already an established star in the Reds’ midfield.

Houllier obviously noticed Gerrard’s talent, as he threw him into first-team training alongside Redknapp when he was still at under-18s level.

But the ex-Liverpool manager seemingly had higher hopes for right-back prospect Stephen Wright.

Redknapp recalled to The Lockdown Tactics podcast that Houllier brought both players to join in training, and the Frenchman told him that Wright – who went on to have a good career with Sunderland – was “the one”.

Redknapp says he had to convince Houllier that a young Gerrard was "different class"
Redknapp says he had to convince Houllier that a young Gerrard was “different class”

While Wright slotted in at right-back, Gerrard joined Redknapp in centre-midfield, and came up against Paul Ince and Patrik Berger.

“I’ve got the ball, passed to Stevie, hoping he would give me it back and I could ping it out to the left winger, or something,” Redknapp said.

“But he took the ball in and on the half-turn he just hit this pass, straight through the air and into someone’s feet. And I thought ‘wow, this kid can play’. Just two minutes later, he’s smashed into Paul Ince, and then he is driving past people.”

Wright broke into the Liverpool team but failed to live up to Houllier's billing
Wright broke into the Liverpool team but failed to live up to Houllier’s billing

Gerrard was around 16-17-years-old at the time, and used to clean Redknapp’s boots.

Redknapp admitted to liking Gerrard, and revealed the thing that stood out most to him was his lightning pace, and suggested he was nearly as quick as Michael Owen.

He made an immediate impression on Redknapp in that first session, but boss Houllier still had eyes on Wright.

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“Gerard Houllier came up to me at the end and asked what I thought of the right-back?” Redknapp added. “I said ‘right-back? What about the kid in midfield? He’s unbelievable. He’s in a different class, the best I’ve seen in years. He is a winner’.

“I said ‘If you can’t see that then you don’t know football’.”

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