MX23RW : Thursday, July 9 11:20:03| >> :60:1319:1319:

Steven Gerrard's ultimate XI to celebrate 40th birthday

To celebrate Steven Gerrard's 40th birthday, Sports Mole rounds up an XI of the Liverpool's icon's most common teammates from his illustrious career.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard celebrates his 40th birthday today, giving the perfect opportunity to look back on what has been an illustrious career.

While his managerial era has started brightly - albeit with the disappointment of missing out on the Scottish Premiership title to bitter rivals Celtic this season - Gerrard will do well to ever outshine his playing days.

The Liverpool icon made 748 club appearances in total, including 710 for his boyhood club, as well as winning 114 caps for England.

Gerrard's trophy cabinet may not stack up against some of the others who also fall into the category of the best of their generation, but he still managed to win two FA Cups, three League Cups and most memorably of all the 2005 Champions League.

The heroics of Istanbul in 2005 and Cardiff in the 2006 FA Cup final are just two of the countless abiding memories Gerrard made, although he will be the first to mention the teammates around him too.

Here, to celebrate to legendary midfielder's 40th birthday, Sports Mole has created an XI of the players he played alongside most often throughout his career.



Stevie G XI

Only two people played alongside Gerrard more often than Pepe Reina, who tended the sticks for Liverpool between 2005 and 2014 and was in the same team as the captain on 314 occasions - comfortably clear of Jerzy Dudek in the goalkeeping stakes.

The centre-back pairing are the only two above Reina in that list; unsurprisingly Jamie Carragher leads the way, having played alongside his fellow Liverpool stalwart a whopping 570 times.

That tally is a long way clear of second-placed Sami Hyypia, who actually lost the armband to Gerrard in 2003 during a career which saw the pair play together 378 times.

The top four in the list of Gerrard's most common teammates is completed by left-back John Arne Riise, who played with him 289 times at Liverpool - easily the most of any left-back.

On the opposite flank it was much closer, although Glen Johnson edges out Steve Finnan by just two appearances - 187 to 185.

While the likes of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Philippe Coutinho were arguably the best central midfielders Gerrard played alongside at Liverpool, the midfield quartet in this XI is made up more of players who did not grab the headlines as much.

Danny Murphy had his moments, and will forever be remembered for his winners at Old Trafford, although he is rather crowbarred onto the left in this team with 178 games alongside Gerrard. The highest tally for an out-and-out left winger was Harry Kewell on 116.

Lucas Leiva and Dietmar Hamann make a rather defensive central midfield pairing, although that is down to Gerrard's own mauarading style needing an anchor alongside him to give him free reign.

Hamann was somewhat surprisingly Gerrard's most common midfield teammate with 219 appearances, while Lucas beats Alonso with 187 to 165.

Dirk Kuyt arrived at Anfield with a fearsome goalscoring reputation from Netherlands, although he was soon shifted out to the right and became a cult hero during his 218 appearances alongside Gerrard.

The classic little and large partnership leads the line from a plethora of great strikers to choose from - Robbie Fowler, Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres are among the forwards to miss out.

No striker played with Gerrard more often than Michael Owen, though, and both have spoken about the almost telepathic bond they enjoyed during 226 senior outings together.

Like Owen, Emile Heskey played with Gerrard for both Liverpool and England to take him up to 218 appearances, with Peter Crouch next in the list of strikers on 143.

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool34302275264992
2Manchester CityMan City34223986345269
3Chelsea341861063461760
4Leicester CityLeicester34178964323259
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd331510856332355
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves34131384537852
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd34131293533251
8Arsenal34121485042850
9Burnley34147133846-849
10Tottenham HotspurSpurs33139115244848
11Everton33128134048-844
12Southampton33134164255-1343
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle341110133550-1543
14Crystal Palace34119143043-1342
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton34812143647-1136
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham3487194059-1931
17Watford34710173153-2231
18Aston Villa3376203662-2627
19Bournemouth3376203259-2727
20Norwich CityNorwich3456232663-3721

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