Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Goodbye To The Big Finn

It’s the news that most Liverpool fans were shocked to hear but the departure of Liverpool’s number 4, Sami Hyypia, will definitely be an amicable one as the Finnish defender moves to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer.

For the past decade, Hyypia has been a colossal figure for the Anfield outfit and won various trophies and cups with Liverpool, including the famous treble in 2001. It would be toppings on ice if Liverpool were to win their first Premiership trophy this season.

Despite being in the twilight of his career, Hyypia still played an important role in Rafael Benitez’s side. His bagful of experience, impeccable position sense on the pitch and most importantly, cool as in iceman, he never complained playing second-fiddle to Daniel Agger or Martin Skrtel.

When called upon, he seldom disappoints. Liverpool’s most note-worthy win this year came from Old Trafford and the Big Finn played his part in it, stopping the rampant Man Utd.

That obviously, was just a small portion of what Hyypia has achieved in his 10 year stint at Anfield.

He arrived with a seemingly meager price-tag at 2.5mil GBP and that has to be one of the, if not the shrewdest purchase under Gerard Houllier’s regime. He immediately formed an impregnable partnership with Swiss, Stephane Henchoz.

Both Hyypia and Henchoz were the basis of Gerard Houllier’s side. The Frenchman’s love for counter-attacking football would not be possible without a defence which could soak up intense pressures. Hyypia, at the heart of defence, was unfazed.But the event which caught my eye the most would be Hyypia’s humility and meekness captured by the way he handled the skipper’s armband to current captain, Steven Gerrard in 2004.

The towering defender was a good choice for captaincy as retirement of Redknapp and departure of Robbie Fowler left the club with a power vacuum. Local heroes such as Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher were all still too young.

He readily availed himself and stepped up to take up the captaincy and perhaps knowing that he was just going to be a seat-warmer for the next Liverpool captain, Gerrard.

Unfortunately, a slight dip of form and the power transfer happened at the same time and therefore, many would presume that he was stripped off due to his poor form.

But despite of the blow, Sami Hyypia continued to be a dependable and loyal servant to the club. With modern day footballers love mouthing about their employers and selling exclusive gossips to the papers, Hyypia was never once found on papers for the wrong reasons.

He continued working hard and in spite of the managerial changes in 2005, he stuck on and put faith in Rafa Benitez and his ideologies. It didn’t take long for him to know that he has put his trust in the right man as Liverpool went on to win their 5th European Cup.

Thereafter, as age caught up with him, he would slowly retreat to the backbenches of Liverpool. With the purchase of younger defenders such as Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, Hyypia would find himself more and more as a backup rather than an indispensable part of Benitez’s plans.

But again, never once did Sami Hyypia voiced his unhappiness or about the lack of opportunity. He was still, dependable when called upon and still gave his best every single minute he’s on the pitch.

So as Hyypia signs his name on the dotted line, I believe most Liverpool fans would be happy for him. Even in his twilight of his career, he still hunger for some first team action, something which Benitez could not promise him.

All the best, Sami. You have been a loyal servant to the club and I guess everyone’s grateful for your useful contributions at Anfield for the past decade. Nobody will forget your towering presence, coolness in face of pressure, reading of the game and the exceptional character which is grade “A” compared to the new generation of players.

Please do come back to work for the backroom staff after your retirement and nurture youngsters, inculcate in them the beliefs and the love of football you have. In faith, I say we’ll be seeing him back in the near future.

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