Ironside Drive, Huyton, in the early 1990s must have been a tough place for an after-school kickabout for many of the neighbourhood kids. The future Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard might be roving around midfield for the opposition and, if you ever managed to overcome that obstacle, win the ball and get through on goal, there would be another member of the Gerrard family to beat.

Although the second member of the clan was perhaps not in his natural position. "Every day I would come home from school and there would be a game of football going on," says Steven's cousin Anthony, who will face his childhood team-mate at Wembley for Cardiff City on Sunday. "Inevitably I would get roped in and get made to go in goal. My nan used to have to come out and tell them to go easy on me."

Despite forcing his younger relation into the traditional smaller kids' role between the posts, the elder Gerrard was well aware of Anthony's nascent talent. "I'm five or six years older than him, but I knew from a young age he was going to be a good player," Steven says. "I used to have a kickabout with him from about four to 10 or 12, and he was really good. Everton picked him up really quickly so I knew he had a really good chance. He loved footy and every time he had a chance to play, he was out there with the lads, who were bigger than him as well. He's a tough kid."

The pair have travelled down very different roads since to reach this point. While Steven went straight from Huyton to a career at Anfield, Anthony has had to work his way back from the scrapheap after being released by Everton in 2005.

More than 150 games with Walsall followed that crushing disappointment before his move to south Wales in 2009. The experience was a formative one.

"When you have a dream, you just can't give up on it," he says. "Players do fall out of football when they get released by bigger clubs. I don't think it's down to their ability, I think it is down to their mental state. I have got a great support network around me –my dad, my grandad.

"They pick me up and tell me that I am not a bad player just because of one manager's say-so. I went and proved that by going to play against fellas who were 6ft 5in and just wanted to elbow my head off in League One and Two.

"You can't buy that experience. You don't get it playing tippy-tappy reserve games. You have to go and earn your medals. You do that by getting knocked out in places like Boston, when you get carried off on a stretcher and left in A&E for an hour. They are things that people don't understand or don't see. When you fall away from the top teams, it is a hard road back."

That circuitous road means that the Carling Cup final will be the first time the pair have faced each other as professionals. Anthony's presence may be a bad omen for Liverpool. The lifelong Reds fan – "I have dreamt about playing in a cup final plenty of times but I have always been wearing a Liverpool shirt" – carries something of a curse, with the club's greatest victories of late occurring when the central defender was not among those present.

"When Steven lifted the Champions League, I was in Cancún," he says. "I was crying into a beer. It was gutting not to be there but fantastic to see him do it. The West Ham Cup final I was just in the pub watching. I'm a bit of jinx watching Liverpool. Every time I go they either lose or draw. I like to keep my distance. I went to the Champions League final in Athens [when Liverpool lost to Milan] so that tells you everything."

If that jinx does not work at even closer quarters, then there are always more rudimentary means of ensuring success – "If he goes through one on one in the last minute and we are winning, I am going to take him out. Let's be honest, I'm not going to lie. He's got too many winners' medals". If the more decorated Gerrard does fail to add another medal to his stack, Anthony hopes he will see at least one bright side.

"If he wins, he will be over the moon. If he loses, he will be gutted. He is the captain of Liverpool and he wants to lift that trophy," he says. "On the other hand, he might have a little bit of admiration for his little cousin taking the plaudits."