LFC Talk

My Top 10 by redroman77
February 19, 2009, 09:31
Filed under: Opinion

Paul Morgan writing for LFC Talk.

My Top 10.

In light of the recent article printed by the national newspaper The Times entitled, “The 50 Greatest Liverpool Players” there seems to have been a debate sparked amongst Liverpool fans as to who they feel are the best players to have ever pulled on the red jersey. Now unfortunately I am of the age where I never seen the greats such as Billy Liddell, Ian Callaghan, Tommy Smith, Emlyn Hughes, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish and all that motley crew. Alas, I was born on 27th August 1989, I am but 19 years of age, born and bred Liverpudlian but I was not here during our great years – although believe you me I am told of them often. Being a season ticket holder of nearly 6 years and a regular match goer before that, having been to places such as Wembley, Cardiff, Dortmund, Istanbul and Athens with Liverpool, I have seen some great matches and some great players. For your enjoyment only reader here is my top 10 list of players that I have seen during my short time as a Liverpool fan.

10. Pepe Reina

190 appearances, 96 clean sheets. 2005-present day.

Pepe signed for Liverpool in July of 2005 and his debut for Liverpool was during the 1st round of Champions League qualifiers against the Welsh outfit, Total Network Solutions which Liverpool won 3-0, a clean sheet for Pepe and it is safe to say that has set something of a precedent. Hailed by Rafa as “the best goalkeeper in Spain” when he was signed, he safely gone a long way to becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the world. His first season at Anfield was probably his best, coming here and smashing a club record by keeping an 11th consecutive clean sheet in the 3-0 rout against Deportivo Saprissa in the World Club Championships. Not only did he break a previous club record that season but he also ended the season on a high with an FA Cup Final appearance against West Ham United, although making a series of errors in normal time allowing West Ham to take a lead, Pepe became the hero during the penalty shootout, saving the penalty against Anton Ferdinand allowing Liverpool to lift the FA Cup for a 7th time. Pepe Reina has been the only goalkeeper Liverpool have had while I have been a supporter that I have had any confidence in, and I think that justifies his position in my top 10.

9. Markus Babbel

73 appearances, 6 goals. 2000-2004.
Markus Babbel arrived at Anfield on a Bosman-style free transfer in the summer of 2000 from Bayern Munich, playing an integral role in the German giants completing a domestic League and Cup double in his final season there. Scorer of memorable goals and amazing, bombarding runs during that fantastic 2000-01 campaign which saw us bring 3 trophies back to Anfield, Markus Babbel played a vital part in the successes of that season. Babbel was an outstanding and attacking right back and will be remembered by Liverpool fans for his derby goal against Everton and when he scored in the UEFA Cup Final win over Alaves in Dortmund. Unfortunately for Markus and for Liverpool, after picking up five medals and adding a new dimension to Liverpool’s play the following season he was diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus Guillain-Barre Syndrome which practically ended his Liverpool and footballing career. I was going to include Steve Finnan in this little chart but thinking back to some of Babbel’s performances in a red shirt, I think he shades Finnan in terms of being a better player and the cruel way in which his career was ended and I am choosing that over Steve Finnan’s longevity.
8. Gary McAllister

87 appearances, 9 goals. 2000-2002.

Gary McAllister is a true Kop hero that will never be forgotten. Like Markus Babbel he played an integral part during that famous 2000/01 treble winning campaign, scoring some extremely important goals, none more so than that penalty against Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi final at Anfield that sent Liverpool through to the final in Dortmund. Also that season Gary McAllister came off the bench to set up Michael Owen’s winner in the FA Cup Final at Cardiff. Whilst these are great achievements, the moment he will always be remembered for by all Liverpool fans was Monday, April 16th at Goodison Park. 94 minutes were on the clock, the score was 2-2, Liverpool had a free-kick and from 44-yards out McAllister struck a superb free-kick into the net to send the Red half of Merseyside into complete delirium, many have said this was the turning point in that great season. Gary McAllister started the 2001/02 season the same way he finished the 2000/01 season, scoring a penalty in the 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the Charity Shield. McAllister ended his Liverpool career with an emotional farewell at Anfield with a substitute appearance in the 5-0 victory over Ipswich with the Kop standing to applaud him and chanting: “What a waste of money!” to a man who in such a short space of time done so much to shape a lot of Liverpool’s recent history.

7. Xabi Alonso

195 appearances, 15 goals. 2004-present day.

One of Rafa’s first signings Xabi Alonso has played a vital role in recent successes of winning the European Cup in 2004/05 and the FA Cup in 2005/06. Known around Anfield for his marvellous range of passing and his famous goals from inside his own half, Xabi Alonso is a cultured player who has brought a lot of class to the current Liverpool team. When Xabi eventually leaves Liverpool he will be remembered for his goals against Luton Town in the FA Cup and Newcastle United in the Premiership, both of which he scored from his own half. Xabi Alonso currently finds himself in the form of his Liverpool career, and he has also some memorable achievements this season scoring the only goal in the 1-0 victory away to Chelsea which ended their 86-match unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge. According to Opta stats Xabi was also the first player of the 2008/09 season to make 1000 successful passes, a piece of useless trivia but something that certifies most Liverpool fans opinions that Xabi Alonso is one of the best passers of the modern game.

6. Michael Owen

297 appearances, 158 goals. 1997-2004.

Remarkably, Michael Owen is the only player in Liverpool’s history to receive the prestigious Ballon D’Or (European Footballer of the Year) award, which he received in December 2001. The fact that Michael Owen was Liverpool’s top scorer every season between 1998 to his departure in 2004 is testament to his goalscoring ability. He really burst onto the scene in 1998 with his goalscoring exploits for Liverpool and England, and his reputation enhanced season upon season, but it was probably in the 2000/01 season when Owen’s career really took off, his 2 goals against Roma in the UEFA Cup were followed by 2 goals against Arsenal in the FA Cup and that cemented his reputation as one of the best strikers in Europe. He is one of the best goalscorers that Liverpool has ever had and his exploits allowed him to overtake the great Roger Hunt in Liverpool’s all-time goalscoring charts. It is just a shame that Michael left in the way he did so that he could win the European Cup with Real Madrid, he should’ve signed for that Liverpool I heard that they won the European Cup the year he left. Oh well.

5. Dietmar Hamann

283 appearances, 11 goals. 1999-2006.

Affectionately nicknamed “The Kaiser” by those on the Kop, Dietmar Hamann is surely one of the greatest imports ever made by the club. Didi will be remembered by most in the country as the last player to score a goal at the old Wembley with a 30-yard thunderbolt of a free kick against England in a World Cup qualifier in 2002, but that is not so for Liverpool fans. He was an extremely influential figure during his 7 years at Anfield, and played a part in the 2000/01 treble winning season, the 2004/05 European Cup triumph against AC Milan in Istanbul and the FA Cup winning side against West Ham United in 2005/06. Although he was suffering a broken toe during the European Cup final, Didi came on for Steve Finnan started the monumental rally for Liverpool who were 3-0 down against AC Milan. He also showed a great amount of courage as he took and converted the first Liverpool penalty with his broken foot. Hamann again played a vital role from the bench in Cardiff in 2006, coming on as a substitute in the second-half. Again Didi took and converted the first penalty of the shootout which ended in a Liverpool victory and another trophy heading back to Anfield. Didi now plays for Manchester City and on the 2 occasions he’s played against Liverpool at Anfield he has received a hero’s welcome from the Kop, a true great.

4. Sami Hyypia

461 appearances, 35 goals. 1999-present day.

Oh Sami, Sami. Bought by Liverpool for £2.6 million in 1999, Sami very quickly became an Anfield favourite forming a rock-solid partnership with Stephane Henchoz at the heart of the Liverpool defence, something which Liverpool had been lacking for nearly a decade. During the 2000/01 campaign, Sami shared the captaincy with Robbie Fowler during the full-time captain’s (Jamie Redknapp) long injury lay-off. That season saw 5 trophies come to Anfield, and Hyypia was quickly made the full-time captain the following season. Hyypia was succeeded as Liverpool captain by Steven Gerrard in 2003 even though Hyypia was still a regular in the side, the only trophy Liverpool won under Hyypia’s captaincy was a 2-0 Worthington Cup win over Manchester United at Cardiff. In the same year, Hyypia received a red card against Manchester United, the only red of his career. Hyypia was later quoted as to saying, “Van Nistelrooy was going through and maybe I took his shirt a little bit but it was never a sending off. But the referee thought so. I got a straight red card. They got a penalty. It was an agony to watch the game in the dressing room. The only red card of my career. But what more can you expect? It was at Old Trafford and they weren’t going to beat us otherwise, so the referee had to do it. These are the things that you remember.” This endeared him further to the Liverpool fans. Hyypia also played vital roles in the 2005 European Cup and 2006 FA Cup triumphs, this time with a new central defence partner, Jamie Carragher. His exploits hadn’t gone unnoticed back home in Finland where he has been voted Finnish Player of the Year in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008. The arrival of young centre-halves Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have provided competition for places as Sami has entered his twilight and this could possibly be his last season in a Liverpool shirt but he has continued to climb the club’s all-time appearance table and now finds himself in the top 20. History will judge Sami to be one of our best and shrewdest buys as his medals collection is now into double figures – Liverpool’s very own BFG.

3. Robbie Fowler

369 appearances, 183 goals. 1993-2001, 2006-2007.

My hero when I was growing up. Now Robbie is the 4th highest Premiership goalscorer of all time, and he is truly one of the great finishers of our time. Mark Bosnich once said of Robbie, “The truly great strikers hit the target 9 times out of 10, the difference between them and Robbie Fowler is that not only does he hit the target 9 times out of 10, he finds the corner 9 times out of 10.” Of Toxteth, Robbie was certainly one of us in the sense that he was a Scouser but growing up he was an Evertonian, yet all that was soon to change once he pulled on the red shirt of Liverpool. His early career at Liverpool was nothing short of phenomenal, he scored his first goal on his debut for Liverpool in a first leg Coca-Cola cup game against Fulham in 1993, yet in the return leg at Anfield he scored 5 goals, he scored his first hat-trick in only his 5th league game against Southampton and his first 13 games for Liverpool yielded 14 goals. In the 1994/95 season, Fowler was an ever-present for Liverpool and this was a season which included the victory in the 1995 League Cup final over Bolton Wanderers, and a match against Arsenal in which he scored a hat-trick in 4 minutes and 33 seconds, still to this day a Premiership record. Throughout the mid and late 1990s, Robbie was now widely considered to be the most natural finisher playing in England, Fowler sealed this reputation as he scored more than 30 goals for three consecutive seasons, 1994/95, 1995/96 and 1996/97. During the 1996/97 season he won a UEFA Fair Play award for admitting that he had not been fouled by, Arsenal goalkeeper, David Seaman at Highbury after a penalty had been given. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the referee to change his decision about the penalty Fowler took it tamely and Seaman saved. Robbie was made joint captain with Sami Hyypia and also scored 17 goals in the famous 2000/01 treble-winning season, scoring a hat-trick en-route in an 8-0 demolition of Stoke City. However, the following season would mark an end to his first spell at Liverpool, much to the dismay of the Liverpool fans who had nicknamed Robbie, “God”, but he still left for Leeds United for £11 million in November 2001. Even though he had left Liverpool, Robbie was still a regular match-goer at Anfield whenever he had the chance, and he was spotted in the crowd in Istanbul. However, Robbie’s Liverpool fairytale was not over, Fowler sensationally returned to Liverpool in 2006 on a free transfer from Manchester City, and on his return against Birmingham City at Anfield he received at standing ovation from all four corners of Anfield, including the Birmingham fans. His year and half second spell at Liverpool saw him overtake the great Kenny Dalglish in Liverpool’s all-time scoring charts and pick up a European Cup runners-up medal, he left Liverpool on 1st July 2007 becoming a free agent and achieving his wish of giving the Liverpool fans a proper goodbye. Just a shame we never got to see him “munching the grass” against Everton again.

2. Jamie Carragher

560 appearances, 5 goals. 1997-present day.

What hasn’t been written about Jamie Carragher? One of the longest-serving players of our history, Carragher made his 500th appearance for Liverpool in all competitions on 15 January 2008 at Anfield in the FA cup against Luton Town and was given a guard of honour and made captain at the request of Steven Gerrard. Like Robbie Fowler, he is another staunch-Liverpool fan who grew up as an Evertonian. He is a player that was underrated by most during Gerard Houllier’s reign at Anfield, primarily used at right-back his only two stand-out incidents being a converted penalty during the shootout of the Worthington Cup final in 2001 against Birmingham and receiving an fine from the FA after throwing back a coin into the Arsenal crowd at Highbury after it was threw at him. However, when Rafael Benitez took the reins at Liverpool, he moved Jamie into a central role in defence and he has been regarded as one of the clubs greatest ever since. A man who gives everything for the cause, one moment that will live with Liverpool fans will be during extra time in Istanbul and Jamie going down with cramp. AC Milan were on the attack and Carragher flung himself to stop the attack which broke down, Carragher stayed on the floor and looked in agony only to drag himself up and fling himself in front of another attack to brake it down. It is this never-say-die attitude which most people will associate with Jamie Carragher, either that or not being able to understand a word he is saying! He has endeared himself to Liverpool fans during an interview where it was claimed that he could win more trophies elsewhere, to which he just looked totally confused. Another incident which endeared himself further to Liverpool fans was when he retired from England and during the radio show Talksport the presenter claimed him to be “a bottler”, to which Carra phoned up and asked the presenter if he thought he was a bottler he should come down to Melwood and they’d see who the bottler was. There was also a famous banner on the Kop during the 2004/05 European Cup winning season, “He put Nedved to bed, he kept Eidur down, now Shevchenko can’t sleep, cos Carra’s in town”. As if Carra’s illustrious career to date wasn’t enough, he wrote a new page into Kop history by becoming the first player to represent Liverpool 100 times in continental competition. Fittingly, the milestone was reached in one of Europe’s top arenas, the San Siro, as Liverpool dumped Inter Milan, the runaway leaders of Serie A, out of the Champions League.

1. Steven Gerrard

471 appearances, 111 goals. 1998-present day.

I don’t feel I need to write anything about Steven Gerrard as it has all been said. All I will say is he’s just quite simply the best player I have ever seen.


1 Comment so far
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A very good list.

Great to see the legend Hyypia as high up as he deserves also.

Comment by lfctalk

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