The young Steven Gerrard could only dream of the experience his adult self will enjoy when the Liverpool FC Legends host Real Madrid later this month.
Years before the midfielder made the grade at Anfield, he regularly took a place on the Kop to be inspired by the pass and move football preached and produced by the Reds at their best.
Gerrard’s subsequent arrival into the first team in 1998 came too late for the Scouser to team up with many of the men he cheered on from the stands – at least until now.
John Aldridge and Ian Rush, for example, two of the club’s finest exponents of the goalscoring art, will roll back the years to represent Liverpool once again when the Legends face Real on Saturday March 25.
And of the numerous appealing factors that drew Gerrard to participate in the charity fixture himself, which will raise funds for the Liverpool FC Foundation, the chance to join forces with such iconic figures ranked especially high.
“If I take myself back to being the age of eight to 18, before I made my debut, I used to love paying money on the Kop to watch these people,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“So to get the chance to have a kickabout with them, a bit of banter, and to compete with them against Real Madrid is a dream come true.
“To be honest with you, everyone has still got it. What everyone hasn’t got is that fitness and shape. But you can see everyone has still got the quality with their touch and movement.
“The magical thing about it is that competitiveness; we often talk about it in the real game at first-team level. You’ve got to have it at any level of football and these have still got it.”
A number of the Legends gathered together on Monday afternoon for a warm-up session at the Academy, with Gerrard – now a coach at the Kirkby base – on the winning team in a seven-a-side practice match.
The 4-1 result was equalled out by a 5-4 loss in the penalty shootout that followed as the squad shaped up to take on a Real outfit that will feature the famous names of Emilio Butragueño, Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and more.
“It gets very competitive,” said Gerrard at the training meet-up.
“Everyone turns up as if they’re not bothered and says they haven’t been training... and the next thing you know, everyone is flying about, throwing tackles in, running into walls and caning each other for not passing.
“You never lose that, that’s the reason why all these players have played at the top.
“I’m getting excited. I was excited when it was first announced, so I can’t wait for it now. Today gives you a little flavour of what to look forward to, getting back playing with all the ex-players – a lot of heroes of mine. My mouth is watering for it.
“I get excited when I go to Anfield to cover games as a pundit. I get excited to go there as a fan to watch. There’s a brand new stand there now that I’ve never played in front of.
“I’ve heard the tickets are selling very well so I’m really excited, I hope it’s a full house. I used to absolutely love playing in front of the Liverpool fans, so to have the chance to do that again is brilliant.”
The Reds surrendered a two-goal advantage and were beaten 4-2 when the sides met at the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2015.
This time around, they can call on the imperious ability of Gerrard – no stranger to causing trouble for the Spanish giants – in their attempt to gain revenge for that defeat.
Whatever the result, though, he acknowledged that the most important element of the event lies away from the Anfield turf and in the local community and beyond.
All proceeds from the game will be donated to the Liverpool FC Foundation, the club’s official charity, to support its programmes and partnerships, which aim to improve the health and life chances of children and young people.
Gerrard added: “It’s the key part. It’s the main reason why everyone is here. That’s the reason why this is all happening.
“You see the turnout today, people coming to support the media day and trying to promote this event. You’ll see the amount of fans that are going to be there on the day.
“You can always rely on this city pulling together for big causes – and the LFC Foundation supports a lot of them.”
Click here for details on buying tickets for the game.
Hospitality starts from £50 per person – call 0151 264 2222 for more information, or click here.
Find out more about the work of the Liverpool FC Foundation here.