Toughest decision of my life - Gerrard

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​Steven Gerrard has described his choice to leave Liverpool at the end of the season as "the toughest decision of my life".

Liverpool confirmed on Friday that their long-serving captain will depart Anfield when his current contract expires at the end of the season.

Here is the full statement issued by Gerrard on Liverpool's official website, outlining his intention to continue his playing career away from the Premier League.

"This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time," said the 34-year-old.

"I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.

"Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it's something that's in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.

"I'm going to carry on playing and although I can't confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won't be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool - that is something I could never contemplate.

"My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.

"I can't thank [Liverpool manager] Brendan [Rodgers], the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they've handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my team-mates and all the staff for their help and continued support.

"It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.

"One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.

"My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world - the supporters.

"It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high."

Gerrard has made 695 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 180 goals in all competitions.