LONDON -- Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard executed a bewildering u-turn on Wednesday, telling the European champions he now wanted to stay at Anfield. Less than 24 hours ago Gerrard said he had made the toughest decision of his life to leave his first and only club six weeks after lifting the Champions League trophy in Istanbul.
"He wants to stay. He realises how much the club means to him," Liverpool chief excutive Rick Parry told SkySports News. "I couldn't be more delighted."
Parry said that in a series of telephone calls he had apologised to Liverpool-born Gerrard for any misunderstandings about the club's desire to keep their talisman.
"We've cleared all of that and I don't think it will happen again. It hasn't been easy for him but as far as we are concerned it is the right decision."
Parry indicated Gerrard had agreed to sign a new contract which could make him one of English soccer's highest-paid players, earning an estimated $175,500 a week.
The five-times European champions rejected a bid for the 25-year-old from Premier League champions Chelsea earlier this week. Newspapers reported Chelsea had bid a British record $56.28 million.
Gerrard's change of mind is a carbon copy of the situation 12 months ago when the player appeared set to join Chelsea, only to follow his heart and stay with his hometown club.
"The last six weeks have been the toughest of my life and it's the hardest decision I have ever had to make," Gerrard had said on Tuesday.
"I fully intended to sign a new contract after the Champions League final but the events of the last five or six weeks have changed all that."
Newspapers reported Gerrard had been upset by the slow pace of his contract negotiations since the Istanbul final.
Manager Rafael Benitez said on Monday he wanted the midfielder to stay at Liverpool for the rest of his career and believed he could even become the club's next manager.
Gerrard scored one goal and made another against AC Milan when Liverpool rallied from 3-0 down to reach 3-3 and a penalty shootout victory after extra time in the Champions League final.
Following the game he appeared to pledge his future to the club. "How can I leave after a night like this and all the nights this season?" he said in Istanbul.
Liverpool are preparing to face Welsh part-timers TNS in their Champions League first round qualifier on July 13.