London: Liverpool will be losing their "red heartbeat" when captain Steven Gerrard quits the club at the end of the season, 2005 Champions League-winning manager Rafa Benitez said on Friday.
"After hearing the news today that Steven will leave Liverpool ... I wanted to wish him all the best for the future and thank him for all his hard work during the time I was at Anfield," the Napoli boss said on his website.
"Liverpool FC is not just losing a great athlete or a great footballer. The club is losing its red heartbeat. Steve, remember, you`ll never walk alone."
Benitez said the remarkable penalty shootout victory, after his side trailed 3-0 after 45 minutes against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, would not have been possible without Gerrard.
"Steven inspired the team that night, refusing to believe it was an impossible job at halftime," explained the Spaniard.
"He led the charge with a wonderful headed goal and showed the determination needed to win a penalty for our third goal. It was the perfect stage for him to showcase his talents.
"If I could think of one word to describe Steven Gerrard it would be `passion`," added Benitez. "He was my captain at Liverpool for six seasons and we worked closely together.
"He nearly always thrived on the big occasion, producing one of the great FA Cup goals as we beat West Ham at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff," he said of the 2006 final.
"The partnership he developed with Fernando Torres produced some of the most exciting attacking football the Premier League has ever seen."
Gerrard, 34, who has made 695 appearances and scored 180 goals for Liverpool since joining the club as an eight-year-old schoolboy, said earlier on Friday that he would be moving to an unnamed foreign team at the end of the season.