Few players in the modern era have inspired legends quite like new LA Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard.
A club icon with Liverpool FC and former captain of England, the tenacious central midfielder has enthused fans of the beautiful game the world over.
To commemorate Gerrard’s arrival in Southern California, Irish artist Dan Leydon was commissioned to produce five posters depicting the 35-year-old midfielder in some of Hollywood’s most legendary movies. The lifelong Liverpool FC fan placed Gerrard as the focal point in such classic movie posters as “2001: A Space Odyssey, “Easy Rider”, “LA Story” “Bullitt” and “Superman.”
I caught up with Leydon to discuss his inspiration for the project and ask what he believes Gerrard will bring to the Galaxy.
INSIDER: As a Liverpool supporter, can you speak to what Steven Gerrard means to Liverpool FC supporters?
LEYDON: I can only shape what Gerrard means through my own experiences of supporting the club whilst he’s been there. I started to pay attention to soccer at the same time he came on the scene. My growing up has happened parallel to his development from youth player to club legend. I’ve moved on from having a deep emotional reaction to transfers happening but I do remember at the time feeling elation when he had turned down Chelsea in 2005. Oddly enough I remember I was on crutches when I saw the news on TV and I went as fast as I could down to my parents room to wake them and shout that he’d stayed at the club. I nearly fell over the carpet and reinjured myself. I was ecstatic.
To anyone my age, he IS Liverpool Football Club.
INSIDER: What is your favorite memory of Steven Gerrard? Is there one iconic memory that sticks in your mind?
LEYDON: It’s not Istanbul or Cardiff against West Ham even though they are supremely meaningful. My most ‘Gerrard’ memory is his late introduction against Napoli in the Europa League [in 2010]. Liverpool were one-nil down to an exciting team with [Ezequiel] Lavezzi and [Edison] Cavani up front. Lavezzi especially was playing great football that night. As it stood The Reds weren’t up too much at all, and then came Gerrard. I’d advise anyone who needs to see what he is about to watch the highlights of this second half. The Napoli fans were living it up, winning one-nil in Anfield on a European night. On comes Gerrard. Scores a hat trick of such variety I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like it before.
His first goal he charged down the keeper and slide tackled the ball into the net with a quite skillful dink amidst the thunder of the crunch. His second was an expertly dispatched penalty, something LFC fans became accustomed to. His third was the best of the night and something any world class striker would be pleased with. One on one with the keeper he shaped to slot it in and then just nonchalantly dinked the ball over the diving body and into the net after which he proceeded to shush the Napoli fans.
It was 45 minutes that encapsulated the titanic presence he is. This colossus of football can just stride off the bench and rip a game to shreds and then shush the away fans that were probably annoying him throughout the first half. That’s Gerrard.
INSIDER: What does Gerrard bring to the Galaxy? What should fans expect?
LEYDON: He’s as close as it gets to a superhero in football terms (see the superman poster). The sheer number of times he’s popped up with sublime moments to turn a match are nearly too much to count.
I hope he tears the league up. If anyone is looking for specific goals and moments to watch here's a few: Gerrard vs. Middlesbrough, last minute winner vs. Aston Villa, vs. Newcastle, dummy run and through ball vs. arsenal, great through ball against Fulham.
INSIDER: How did you choose the films that you used for these posters?
LEYDON: I wanted to go with films that had a sense of discovery or new beginning.
“2001” made sense as it had the galaxy and space connection and the overall theme of taking a next step or embarking into a new dawn.
“Easy Rider” worked too as it’s about someone setting out to find the soul of America. “LA Story” is probably the most obvious one, with its tagline carrying the meaning. It did lend itself well to the rendering of the sunset though.
“Superman” is probably a bit personal to LFC fans as it works well with the image of him flying up to nod an historic header in. Also the S.G. fit nicely into the crest. And “Bullitt” is for his persona, a bit frowny and quiet like the titular heroes of 70’s cinema but they get the hard stuff done in the important moments.
INSIDER: Walk me through the thought process for each of the posters?
LEYDON: I’d checked through lists and lists of Hollywood classics as that was the link, Stevie G comes to LA. I stockpiled film names that had a conceivable connection to the man and the sport. Once this was done I began to whittle them down to five appropriate choices and ended up with the five we have now. Then I’d search through the iconic film posters and worked out ways Gerrard could be inserted without jarring the narrative or overall feeling of the design. I’m most happy with the 2001 poster as I was worried about that from the moment it was decided I was doing it. There’s nowhere to hide. If I couldn’t draw him and get a good resemblance it’d be ruined. As it stands it’s my favorite poster of the lot. I’ll probably stick it on the wall in my office.