Adebayo Akinfenwa begged Steven Gerrard to stay at Liverpool

Adebayo Akinfenwa begged Steven Gerrard to stay at Anfield after the Liverpool captain single-handedly ended AFC Wimbledon's hopes of an upset.

Just days after confirming this would be his last season on Merseyside, the 34-year-old Gerrard led the Reds out for an FA Cup third-round tie at Kingsmeadow.

It was a match in which fourth-tier Wimbledon threatened a shock akin to the 1988 FA Cup final as Akinfenwa cancelled out Gerrard's early header.

The Dons had chances to pull ahead at Kingsmeadow, only for the Liverpool captain to extinguish hopes of an upset by curling home a free-kick to secure a 2-1 win.

"It was very close," Wimbledon striker Akinfenwa said. "We are disappointed in our changing room. We thought at least a draw was fair, take them back to Anfield and go again.

"But I guess Steven Gerrard is Steven Gerrard. Two moments of magic is all I can really remember, which won them the game.

"It is disappointing but it is what it is. We can leave this place with our heads held up high and now go concentrate on the league."

Akinfenwa is eyeing promotion from League Two this term, but concedes even that will fail to top scoring against his boyhood club.

One of the highlights of his career, the burly striker even got Gerrard's shirt -- a moment he used to plead with his idol to stay at Liverpool.

"I said 'Don't go, man -- look, I will tell you this now, I am a fan, don't go,'" Akinfenwa said. "I was just like 'Don't go, man' and he just smiled it off and that.

"Look, nobody can begrudge Steven Gerrard doing what he wants to do. He has just been a legend -- class. If he needs to go to pastures new, so be it.

"I think it is down to Liverpool to try and do everything to keep him and get him to stay, but if he has made his mind up, he has made his mind up.

"All you can do is wish him on his merry way and hope he comes back as manager one day."

Akinfenwa knows, though, that his words will have done little to change Gerrard's mind.

Instead, he hopes the midfielder ends his time at Anfield by winning a third FA Cup on what will be his 35th birthday this May -- and that English clubs in the future look at adapting to key, older players.

"I think Andrea Pirlo is the direct [comparison]," Akinfenwa said, referring to the 35-year-old Juventus and Italy playmaker.

"If you play to somebody's strengths -- on the ball he is technically gifted -- you play to his strengths.

"As you get older, you ain't going to have the legs to keep going up and down, so you adapt your game. Once you adapt your game, you adapt the formation to play to his game.

"[Gerrard] showed that last season with the front three, the pace he had to pick out passes. In that sense, I don't want to see him go. Not just as a Liverpool supporter, but a lover of football."