Steven Gerrard knew it was time to leave Liverpool when he was omitted from the starting lineup for their Champions League group match at Real Madrid last November.
The 35-year-old former England captain left Anfield in May after more than 17 years and 700 matches with the Premier League club and has signed for Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy.
He said in an interview to be broadcast on Wednesday that he was “devastated” when manager Brendan Rodgers put him on the bench in Madrid and realised his days at the club were numbered.
“When I was told I wasn’t playing, for the sake of the team and the squad and my relationship with Brendan, I took it and accepted it,” Gerrard tells his former England team mate Rio Ferdinand in the interview, to be televised by BT Sport.
But the ex-Liverpool skipper said that was the moment he realised his long career at the club was coming to an end.
“I sat on the bench devastated because I wanted to play. It sort of pushed me into making a decision to move on and try something different,” he explained.
Gerrard eventually came on in the 69th minute of the match, which Liverpool lost 1-0, and although he played 41 times last season, he was no longer the automatic first-choice he had been for most of his 17 years at Anfield.
He is now about to start the next phase of his career with the California-based LA Galaxy and can be seen on promotional posters dotted around the city under the banner ‘Greatness’.
Liverpool, who finished second in the Premier League in 2014, had a poor season by comparison last term finishing sixth.
He also said the slip he made that effectively cost Liverpool the title in 2014 “will hurt me till the day I die.”
That happened in April 2014 when they lost 2-0 at home to Chelsea after Gerrard’s slip on the turf allowed Demba Ba to score the opening goal.
Liverpool never recovered from that and Manchester City snatched the title from their grasp.
“The slip happened at a bad time, it was cruel for me personally. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think, “What if that didn’t happen?” Gerrard said
“I’ve got memories, good memories, that will live with me forever. But that one moment will hurt me until the day I go.
“It’s because if I had got that title, I’d have achieved every dream with Liverpool. And, as a man, that hurts.”