Steven Gerrard: Who said farewell best on social media?

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli wrote Steven Gerrard a goodbye letter, complete with smiley face sign-off

Mario Balotelli put pen to paper, Joey Barton tried cutting humour and David Beckham nailed it in one word as the world of football turned to social media to say farewell to Steve Gerrard.

The Liverpool midfielder's final game at Anfield ahead of a summer move to Los Angeles ended in a flat 3-1 defeat by Crystal Palace but the Reds captain, 34, may crack a smile when he checks his social media accounts.

Here, BBC Sport presents the best and worst on show in our first and only Steven Gerrard social media tribute awards.

Best individual effort - Mario Balotelli

In an age of tweets, texts and emails, the personalised touch of pen on paper has been lost. But not to Mario Balotelli.

Mario Balotelli
Balotelli posted an image of his letter on Instagram on Saturday morning

The Italy striker, known for doing things a little differently, has played alongside Gerrard for less than a season but was moved to write his feelings in a letter before sharing his effort with his followers on Instagram.external-link

Playing with Gerrard has been "an amazing and unforgettable experience" for Balotelli. "It is a pleasure to leave free-kicks and penalties to you," he added.

Well done Mario, you take our award for best effort. Fill your boots taking set-pieces next season, although it may not be at Anfield.

Most nostalgic effort - John Arne Riise

Steven Gerrard and John Arne Riise celebrate
Steven Gerrard and John Arne Riise formed part of Liverpool's triumphant Champions League side of 2005

Saying goodbye (or "farvel" in Norwegian) after 17 years reduces some to rubble.

John Arne Riise, once a Liverpool regular alongside the departing legend, opened his heart on his personal blogexternal-link with a post titled "Thank you captain fantastic".

"Gerrard is not just a player. He is "THE" player, the best I have ever played with," wrote the 34-year-old, who now plays in Cyprus.

"He is the greatest Liverpool has ever had. I'm honoured that I can say I played seven years with the legend himself. I won Champions League with him, even though I think he won it for us."

And they say Scandinavians are a cold people. Not John Arne.

Humour award - Joey Barton

Over 17 years, Steven Gerrard's consistency was rarely questioned on the field, and Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton - another Liverpudlian - noted another Gerrard constant.

Steven Gerrard
Between 2000 and 2005, Gerrard's hair barely changed but a quiff appeared from around 2009 onwards

"One of his biggest achievement in my eyes, which often goes under the radar, is having the same haircut for so long," tweeted Barton.external-link "It must be incredibly tough to ignore the trends and stick with the tried and tested 'no 2 on the top and 1 on the sides' for over a decade.

"The highest compliment I could pay him is, he's a player I'd be proud to tell my grandchildren that I once played against. His level of loyalty is unparalleled. People talk about his loyalty to his club? Look at the loyalty he has shown his barber?"

When you retire Joey, the haircut look back will be eye opening. Well done on landing our humour award.

Emotional rollercoaster award - Daniel Sturridge

Goodbyes can be tough. Daniel Sturridge - currently injured - missed this one through injury. There will be no goodbye hug, no lump in the throat or watery eyes for Sturridge for now.

Steven Gerrard in badge-kissing celebration mode
Daniel Sturridge says Gerrard (above) helped him settle at Anfield when he joined Liverpool in 2013

On Instagramexternal-link he posted: "The greatest player to ever wear a Liverpool shirt. Wish I was there to share his last moments and season with the club. He's taught me a lot about football on and off the field and made me feel welcome at the club on my first day when I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. As the saying goes you don't know what you've got til it's gone but for me we already know what we'll miss."

Praise, warmth, companionship and a look to the future. That one had it all Daniel.

Most understated award - David Beckham

David Beckham Instagram post of him and Steven Gerrard

Thousands of words of praise packed social media, but simplicity proved powerful in one David Beckham word. "Loyalty..." he posted on Instagramexternal-link along with an image of himself and Gerrard on England duty.


Most committed award - Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki watches Liverpool on TV
Caroline Wozniacki wore a signed Liverpool shirt to watch the Reds' defeat by Crystal Palace

If it's a big occasion you have to dress the part. We will never know what Riise wore to compose his compelling blog or what Sturridge had on as he poured his heart out.

What we do know is tennis star Caroline Wozniacki wore a signed Liverpool shirt to watch the match and, as a result, wins our most committed award.

Sartorial suitability from the Dane.

Most respectful award - Tim Cahill

Stanley Park separates Anfield and Goodison Park and while both Liverpool and Everton are often there for one another in their time of need, kind words from rival players are rarely shared.

Tim Cahill
Tim Cahill (right) uploaded this image of him battling with Gerrard in a Merseyside derby

But ex-Toffee Tim Cahill posted on Instagram:external-link "Farewell to Steven Gerrard, it was a privilege to have played against this guy in the derbies and more importantly to see his passion for his club. Yes he's a red and I'll always be blue but I have a lot of respect for this guy. Liverpool will not be the same without him."

Cahill went where few rival players go in publicly praising an old enemy. Respect to you Tim.

Through gritted teeth award - Tony Bellew

We do not want to anger British cruiserweight Tony Bellew in any way and as a proud Evertonian, fair play to him for gritting his teeth to champion Gerrard.

Steven Gerrard
Tony Bellew claims Steven Gerrard has broken his heart on times

"My eldest boy was star struck meeting Steven," he posted on Instagram.external-link "Broke my heart many a time but can't deny what a great footballer the lad is and a true role model for upcoming footballers and Scousers especially."

Bellew shows class transcends rivalry.

Most controversial - Asmir Begovic

Asmir Begovic tweet
Asmir Begovic believes Gerrard has starred more than Premier League greats such as Thierry Henry and Ryan Giggs

At what point does one rein oneself in with all the gushing praise?

Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic - fresh from a draw at Burnley - went big with his tribute, calling Gerrard the Premier League's "best ever".external-link

Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard and Ryan Giggs may not share your opinion but enjoy the award Asmir.

Room for improvement award - Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer was England captain when Gerrard broke into the team

The standard of Gerrard-themed tweets from footballers past and present has been lofty to say the least this week. Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer kept it simple.

It's no nonsense, we will give him that and, to be fair, he only joined Twitterexternal-link this week, but it's very much the 'one hand in the air celebration' of tributes from Shearer.