Sami Hyypia’s arrival at Liverpool did little to seize the creativeness of the membership’s fanbase. Arriving from the Eredivisie for a modest price, little was recognized in regards to the newest centre-back signed to deal with the Reds’ rearguard.
The nineties had been a troublesome interval for Liverpool. The start of the Premier League had coincided with the Merseysider’s decline, because the Reds have been unseated from their place of energy as English soccer’s dominant power.
Liverpool had gained only one League Cup throughout the primary seven seasons of the Premier League and because the new millennium neared have been in a interval of transition. Roy Evan’s reign had did not revive the membership’s fortunes and the ‘Spice Boy’ tradition was starting to be eased out.
Gerard Houllier – initially appointed in a joint-managerial position with Evans – ultimately took sole cost from the long-serving Liverpudlian and started exploring the European markets.
Amongst Houllier’s first duties was to deal with the membership’s defensive deficiencies. His first season had seen Liverpool end seventh, with their 49 targets conceded simply three lower than relegated Blackburn. Significantly susceptible within the air, his seek for a centre-back took Houllier to Willem II.
Within the ranks of the Dutch aspect was Hyypia, a formidable Finland worldwide who had performed an integral position within the membership’s latest rise.
Hyypia first rose to prominence in his homeland at MyPA, the place he twice gained the Finnish Cup. The son of two dad and mom every with footballing backgrounds, he was invited for a trial at Newcastle United in 1995, earlier than making the transfer to the Netherlands with Willem II.
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Throughout 4 seasons he helped the Tricolores punch above their weight within the Eredivisie, captaining the aspect to a runners-up end in his closing season to safe Champions League qualification for the primary time within the membership’s historical past.
Ron Yeats – a cornerstone of Liverpool’s Nineteen Sixties revival and a scout at the moment – took little time to be satisfied the Finnish large was a gem.
“The primary time I noticed him I couldn’t imagine how good he was,” Yeats mentioned to the Echo.
“I assumed I’d higher go and see him once more and he didn’t disappoint the second time. He was robust within the air and an ideal tackler however the factor that basically struck me was how good he was on the ball. He very seldom gave it away.
“I went again and instructed the membership that this was a lad we actually wanted to purchase. I mentioned they couldn’t afford to take their time as a result of in any other case another person could be in for him.”
Liverpool had taken word of Hyypia’s affect throughout an excellent season in Tilburg and accomplished a £2.6m deal to carry the towering defender to English soccer. As Manchester United and Leeds every took turns to interrupt the Premier League’s switch document for a defender, the Reds unearthed a cut price.
Hyypia’s affect was transformative. His first season noticed Liverpool narrowly miss out on Champions League soccer, with their success constructed on the Premier League’s greatest defensive document.
🎶 “Oh, Sami, Sami…” 🎶
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 11, 2021
The imposing summer season signing shaped a formidable axis alongside fellow recruit Stephane Henchoz, with the duo’s complimentary traits serving because the spine of Houllier’s bettering aspect.
Astute additions had added to a core of thrilling academy graduates and the 2000/01 season proved considered one of beautiful success. Houllier’s aspect launched into a run of momentum in the direction of silverware, ending with a cup treble and Champions League qualification.
As Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp struggled for health, Hyypia captained the aspect for a lot of the marketing campaign as Liverpool gained the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup. The centre-back was a stalwart of their success, that includes in 58 of Liverpool’s 63 video games throughout a marathon marketing campaign.
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Having struggled for silverware throughout the previous decade, Liverpool have been again competing for main trophies and Hyypia’s consistency and sophistication was an enormous a part of their return to prominence.
Hyypia was named as full-time captain in 2002, following the departures of Fowler and Redknapp. Nonetheless, it was a place he held for only a yr as his performances started to dip and an rising Steven Gerrard was handed the armband.
“Coming from Finland and being the Liverpool captain is a superb honour. I nonetheless keep in mind the day I misplaced the captaincy to Stevie and I’m very pleased that occurred,” Hyypia recalled to the Echo.
“I knew it meant rather a lot to Stevie and he grew up as a person and a participant a lot after that. For myself, I began to play higher once I misplaced the captaincy. It labored each methods.
“It could have even made our relationship even deeper as he noticed I used to be okay with the supervisor’s determination and took it as an expert and a person. I believe he [Gerrard] revered me extra after that. I needed to assist Stevie and if he had an issue, I used to be at all times there.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 7, 2021
Hyypia remained a distinguished a part of the aspect and his performances improved with out the armband. Rafael Benitez’s arrival as supervisor in 2004 then offered the defender with a brand new companion, as Jamie Carragher was transformed to centre-back on a full-time foundation.
The Hyypia-Carragher axis was a fantastic marriage. The calm and aerial command of the Finn was a perfect match for the sturdy challenges of the Bootle-born defender, whereas a shared positional intelligence and co-ordination largely compensated for an absence of tempo.
In Europe the duo excelled. Benitez’s first season noticed Liverpool attain a primary Champions League closing in 20 years, with their resilient rearguard on the forefront of their success.
Every have been excellent as Juventus have been held to a goalless draw within the quarter-finals in Turin, with an injury-ravaged aspect holding agency to succeed in the final 4. Hyypia – so typically a weapon at set-pieces – had volleyed house an excellent aim to open the scoring within the first leg at Anfield.
Not your typical centre-back.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 7, 2018
Liverpool additionally did not concede within the semi-finals, as a Chelsea workforce who completed 37 factors forward of the Reds have been eradicated. The ultimate did not comply with an analogous development as Liverpool got here from three targets all the way down to win an exciting closing in opposition to AC Milan in Istanbul, however their defensive fortitude had offered the platform for a fifth European Cup success.
Hyypia began the ultimate as Liverpool gained the FA Cup the next season, his missed kick irrelevant because the Reds gained one other main trophy with a shootout success in opposition to West Ham in Cardiff.
His latter years noticed his position decreased, as pretenders in Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel emerged to compete for a first-team place. Regardless of excessive hopes for the duo, neither got here shut to creating the affect Hyypia had throughout a decade at Anfield.
“Liverpool was my favorite workforce once I was younger, so it was a dream come true,” he instructed the Echo.
“After I signed the deal, I assumed it was solely the start and that I wanted to indicate individuals I might play soccer. If somebody mentioned to me I’d spend 10 years taking part in for this nice membership on the day I signed, I’d have mentioned they have been mad.”
Hyypia known as time on his profession with Liverpool on the finish of the 2008/09 season, one which noticed the Reds narrowly miss out on an elusive Premier League title. He made 464 appearances in all competitions and gained ten trophies, cementing his standing as a membership nice.
For many who performed alongside him his affect was immeasurable, with former teammate Carragher labelling the Finn because the membership’s biggest signing of the Premier League period.
“After I consider the place Liverpool have been in 1999, they have been a workforce ending sixth and seventh within the league,” Carragher instructed Monday Evening Soccer.
“That workforce was often known as a weak workforce, acquired bullied. He [Hyypia] got here in and over the following ten years, he was by no means injured, and Liverpool went from a tender contact to a workforce that was mentally and bodily very robust and he was an enormous a part of that.
“The success we had with Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez was constructed on defence. It was constructed on solidity and that was constructed on his signing.
“The value tag, the by no means being injured, the ten years of service and the trophies that he gained, that’s why he’s high.”
An unknown on arrival, his instantaneous affect helped return Liverpool to prominence and ensured Hyypia will likely be remembered as an Anfield icon.
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