Steven Gerrard: I wanted Robbie Keane to stay a lot longer at Liverpool 7 years ago

Steven Gerrard: I wanted Robbie Keane to stay a lot longer at Liverpool

Steven Gerrard says Rafael Benitez was the only reason Robbie Keane failed to make a lasting impression at Liverpool.

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1, the former Reds captain spoke of a clash between Ireland's record goalscorer and Benitez during Keane's short spell at Liverpool in 2008.

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"I don't think that was all down to Robbie," Gerrard said.

"Robbie came and worked hard on the training pitch and scored some important goals for us... I think there was a bit of a clash with Rafa Benitez maybe, but I certainly wanted him to stay around for a long time, he's a very talented player and I like playing with him so I was sad to see him go.

"I was think it was more down to Rafa trying to change the way Robbie played and for me the reason we bought Robbie was for him to play off a front man and cause damage between defence and midfield.

"Rafa was trying to change that and change his game and I don't think Robbie was too happy with that, I think that's where the clash came."

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Gerrard also believes that Keane can play a massive part for Ireland at next summer's European Championships despite the fact that the 35-year-old was on the periphery for the recent play-offs win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 2005 Champions League winner added: "I'd be stunned if in he wasn't in the squad, I think Martin O'Neill will take him for his experience; he's capable of scoring big goals in big moments and them players are very hard to come by.

"I know he hasn't played as much in the last couple of qualifiers and the play-offs but Martin's had him alongside him on the bench and Robbie does a terrific job on the pitch but also off it as well, and I'm sure he'll want him around."

Gerrard also spoke about how much he misses playing in England, having returned to train with Liverpool during LA Galaxy's off-season.

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"I played at that level for an awful long time... it was only five months ago that I was playing at that level; so my feelings haven't changed, I still feel as if I'm good enough to play at Premier League level.

"Maybe my body wouldn't allow me to do that every 3-4 days but I certainly think talent-wise I've got the ability."

When asked how he found being be back on familiar ground at Liverpool's Melwood training facility this week, Gerrard told Sean O'Rourke that "it was very exciting... it's a place where I've spent an awful lot of time training and working hard over the years since the age of 8 so to be welcomed back and to join in training with the lads and see all the staff that I worked with for a very long time has brought back some fantastic memories, so I'm really enjoying going back in."