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McKENNA JOINS GERRARD'S FAN CLUB
Ken McKenna
Totally Nuts about Stevie - a relaxed McKenna prepares for kick-off at Wrexham on Tuesday night [Phil Blagg]
STEVEN Gerrard might have wrecked the Saints' European dreams, but don't expect any harsh words from TNS management or players about the inspirational Reds' skipper.
Manager Ken McKenna says the two European matches show just why Liverpool moved heaven and earth to keep their man at Anfield.
"Stevie Gerrard - what a player and what a man. He may have destroyed us, but we can't speak highly enough of him," said McKenna.
"We knew what we wanted to do in these matches, which was to keep things tight. Then he popped up, five times, to wreck that theory.
"It's not just Gerrard the player who drives Liverpool on, it is Gerrard the person, too.
"He leads by example, on and off the field, and I have to say he was fantastic to myself and my players.
"He made a point on Tuesday night of putting on a TNS jersey after the game and applauding us off the field.
"He also came up to me, warmly shook me by the hand, told me we had done well and done the Welsh Premier proud.
"He was not being patronising, he was being sincere. He's not just a great footballer, but also a great character and it has been a pleasure to meet him during these two matches."
McKenna says that mosyt of his Red-worshipping players were distraught when it looked like Gerrard would move to Chelsea - "They wanted him to play against us and they didn't want to see him leave Anfield," added the Saints' boss.
"When it was announced that he was signing a new deal with Liverpool, two of the players came into my Portadown hotel room singing at the top of their voices with delight.
"That's the impact it had - although clearly Gerrard harmed us in the end with his goals.
"That said, I'm absolutely delighted that Stevie played in the two matches, even if I wasn't best enamoured with his goals.
"There is no disgrace in losing to a team inspired by the performances and goals from such a world-class player.
"I'm an Everton fan, so I've never really appreciated Gerrard, and didn't know him.
"But, over the two legs against us, he has done nothing but encourage my players.
"He's been really humble which is great for someone who is at the top of his profession. He acts just like one of us, even though he plays like someone from another planet!
"He's a fantastic player and he comes across as a fantastic person, and I wish him the very best for the future."
21 July 2021