CARSON, Calif. – Steven Gerrard didn't need to hear a whole lot before he became convinced that Southern California was the ideal spot for him if he was going to leave Liverpool.
And, at 35, he was ready for something new.
The English midfielder was officially introduced Tuesday afternoon by the LA Galaxy at a StubHub Center news conference, where he praised his new club, said he was ready for MLS' unique challenges and expressed a desire to follow in the footsteps of Galaxy legends David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
“We've got a fantastic team here, a fantastic setup,” said Gerrard, who has been training for a week with the Galaxy. “If I can just add a little bit to that and contribute to the best of my ability, I think that the future can be very bright.”
Gerrard, who spent nearly three decades with Liverpool -- the last 17 years with the first team -- becomes eligible when the summer transfer window opens Wednesday, and he will likely make his Galaxy debut in Saturday night's International Champions Cup friendly against Mexico's Club America at StubHub Center (11:30 pm ET, FOX Sports 1).
“The last seven days have been a bit of a whirlwind, but the move hasn't because I've had time to prepare,” he said. “I've had time to do a lot of thinking, a lot of preparation before I arrived. ... It's new, it's fresh [and] it has been very exciting. For me, now I'm just looking forward to putting my boots on outside on the pitch and, hopefully, getting some wins.”
Gerrard signed with the Galaxy in January after a brief courtship that required not much more than a month. He said that “what struck me the most” was how aggressive LA were in pursuing him once they gauged there was interest.
“That made me feel very important and wanted. I think that's key when you're a footballer," he said. “I had options to stay in the Premier League, options around Europe, but I didn't want to compete against Liverpool. I love Liverpool FC, and I always will do – still a fan to this day and I will be for the rest of my life – but I needed a new challenge. I needed a fresh challenge. I didn't want to become a squad player or a sub for the club that I love, having been a regular in the team for so long.”
The Galaxy made an overture last fall, during the MLS Cup Playoffs, “and I had a short time to think about it,” Gerrard said. “I spoke to Bruce [Arena, LA's head coach and general manager] and Chris [Klein, club president], and after one or two conversations, I knew this was the place for me.”
Gerrard could make his competitive debut for the Galaxy in next week's US Open Cup quarterfinal at Real Salt Lake, and he's slated for his first league match July 17 at StubHub Center against the San Jose Earthquakes. He expects a quick transition.
“I think there'll be a few minor stops and starts and a few tweaks,” he said. “The players have got to get used to me, the way I play. I've got to adapt to the way the team plays and certain individuals play. It's going to take a small period of time for the manager to get used to me, for me to get used to the manager and all the staff, but I adapt pretty quickly."
The biggest issue in his transition could be that he's never been away from home. He's lived in Liverpool his entire life, with his family nearby, and wrote in his 2006 autobiography that “homesickness is a part of me that will never go away.”
“I wrote that autobiography when I was 25. I'm 35 now,” Gerrard said. “I'm a big boy, I've matured, and I've got a lot more experience under my belt. And I'm also the father of three kids now, so I don't think I'll get homesick anymore.
"I'm prepared to stay here as long as possible and help this club be successful moving forward. If I get a bit of homesickness going forward, I'll have to deal with it. I'm ready for any challenge and any hurdles that are put in front of me.
"[I've] spent all my life in Liverpool," he added. "I'm a Scouser, I'm proud to be a Scouser, but at 35, I felt it was the right time for a new challenge in my life, and also I want to give my children the chance to live in a new place and challenge them for the next couple of years.”
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The challenges he faces include cross-country travel, artificial surfaces in some stadiums and a great variance in weather, from frigid cold in the Northeast and Rockies early and late in the season to extreme heat and humidity in much of the country during the summer and early fall.
“I spoke to Robbie [Keane] and David [Beckham] before I decided to come here, and they told me about the travel and the weather,” Gerrard said. “Bruce and Chris made it very clear in the couple of conversations we had as well. But these are things I've had to deal with in tournament football for England, in preseason. Believe it or not, in August and September and May it's very warm and very hot [in England] to play football in.
"I've done it before, and I'll do it again, and, hopefully, I'll have a very high level of performance.”
Gerrard said he's impressed with the standard of play he's seen in MLS and during training with the Galaxy.
“The level's very good here,” he said. “We've got terrific players, you seen on Saturday a terrific performance [in a 4-0 win over Toronto FC]. I'm coming into a very good team. ... Going forward, moving forward, it's all about success. I've come here to win. If there's anyone out there who thinks I'm coming here for a holiday and my last paycheck, they'll be proved wrong very soon.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.