Jamie Carragher was left so in awe at Steven Gerrard's single-handed demolition of Napoli that the Liverpool stalwart was moved to make the sensational claim that Gerrard is the best player in the club's history.
The England midfielder came off the bench to fire a second-half hat-trick that secured Roy Hodgson's men a valuable 3-1 win at Anfield on Thursday night, putting the Reds on the verge of the Europa League's knockout stages. But Liverpool had been a goal down and in desperate need of inspiration before Gerrard's intervention.
And while Liverpool fans have worshipped the likes of Kenny Dalglish, John Barnes, Ian Rush, Alan Hansen, Kevin Keegan and Graeme Souness in the past, Carragher believes it is his skipper's knack for turning games on their head that puts him head and shoulders above the other Anfield greats.
'Stevie is just an unbelievable talent, we all know that,' said Carragher. 'We have seen him do things like he did last night time and again during his career.
'But he keeps on producing when it matters and, to me, that makes him the best player the club has ever had and the most influential player ever in the Premier League.
Above and beyond: Gerrard lifts the ball over the Napoli goalkeeper to finish his treble, in a match-winning performance hailed by Carragher
'You could see the crowd responded to him when he came on in the second half and he lifted everybody's performance. He was outstanding and we were able to get out of a tight spot.
'Thankfully we were able to get the win and now we have got to make sure we can keep this run going for as long as possible.'
Reds youngster Jonjo Shelvey was also full of praise for Gerrard, the man he hope to one day emulate in the heart of the Liverpool midfield.
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'It was great to be a part of that and Stevie is just phenomenal,' Shelvey said. 'Working alongside him every day in training he is just special and the hat-trick was different class.
'I thought the whole team showed a never-say-die attitude and it was a really enjoyable night.'
The England Under 19 captain was making his first start for Liverpool following his summer move from Charlton Athletic, and now hopes to feature more for the first team, starting with the clash against reigning Premier League champions Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday.
He added: 'That would be amazing just to be in the squad against Chelsea, but I've just to keep working hard and show what I can do.
'I would play anywhere for this team, even left-back if I was asked to.'
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson was equally enthralled by Gerrard's display, and admitted his captain had given his side the lift they so desperately needed at half-time.
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'Certainly in the second half his entry onto the field was a catalyst, said Hodgson. 'It galvanised the crowd and the team. The way he scored the first goal epitomises the energy and spirit the team showed in the second half. I'm delighted we got a reward for it but we do owe a big debt of gratitude to him.'
Hodgson added: 'I thought tonight was a real leader's performance. That goal that got us the equaliser wasn't a pretty goal; it was a captain's goal, one of a guy who wanted to get his team back into a match and who was determined to get the ball into the net. That is certainly appreciated by me and my staff as well as the crowd.'
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