I was asked me an interesting question last week. “If you could choose a Liverpool XI from when you started watching them, who would you pick?” Now I know people probably pick all-star teams regularly but I realised it’s something I’ve never done.
I’ve been watching Liverpool since I was about 6 or 7 when I used to sit with my brother who was always glued to the television watching games. I would have to choose players from around 1996 all the way to the present day. That’s nearly 20 years of players that! So I thought I would have a go…
PEPE REINA – I loved Reina. He got a lot of stick in his final season at Liverpool but I thought he was a fantastic all round keeper. Plus, this position is pretty much a given because who’s going to choose David James?! (Dudek may have pulled off one of the best goalkeeping performances ever in Istanbul but he wasn’t consistent enough for me).
JAMIE CARRAGHER – Carragher is my all-time favourite Liverpool player, a traditional defender who commanded his back four and always got stuck in. I still miss his last minute crunching tackles. His never-say-die attitude was spot on, he’d probably make my world XI to be honest but maybe that’s me just being a bit bias.
SAMI HYYPIA – Hyypia was the first player I ever got on the back of a shirt. I’ve always had a soft spot for defenders and even before I started to praise Carra’s performances, I found myself being drawn to the defending of the former Finland international. He was just very calm and collected and the sight of him plodding up for a corner would always bring a smile to my face (especially against Juventus).
JOHN ARNE RIISE – Most of you will be reading this thinking “What the?!” However, I stand by my choice. Again one of my cult heroes as a young Liverpool fan, the left-back may have had some questionable performances and scored some heartbreaking own goals, but overall he was solid in my opinion. Add to this that power in his left foot and I’d always have to name him in my XI.
(I’m a massive fan of four at the back and much prefer that formation but I just couldn’t drop any of my midfielders or forwards!)
STEVEN GERRARD – Do I really need to explain? A talisman and a simply sublime captain. His performances in Istanbul and in that special FA Cup final will go down in history. His ability to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and turn it around for his club was simply phenomenal. I miss him.
XABI ALONSO – The Spaniard was another fantastic player for the Reds. He wasn’t a player who boasted about his ability, but it was no surprise when Real Madrid started knocking. He was lovely to watch on the ball and scored some fantastic goals for the club.
JAVIER MASCHERANO – The one that got away in my opinion. It was a smart move by Rafael Benitez to pounce on the unsteady ownership/transfer situation with the Argentina international. He was a tenacious, fiery midfielder, and you would steal possession off of him at your peril…
JOHN BARNES – I’ve cheated a bit here because I can only just about remember watching John Barnes. My brother was always going on about him and I clearly remember that goal against the Brazilians, but he’s within the time frame so he’s in the team. A magical player who I feel is often underrated by many – a brilliant personality and so skilful. For me he’s the last real winger Liverpool have had in a long time.
FERNANDO TORRES – I was so excited when we first signed the Spaniard and he was a stunning goalscorer. In his prime, Torres could break through any defence both in the league and abroad and it was just such a shame that things ended on such bad terms.
MICHAEL OWEN – I hate him for moving to Manchester United and I’m not afraid to admit it, but just like the Carragher’s and the Gerrard’s of this world, Michael Owen was one of the first players I went crazy for. He was just so fresh and talented and a true joy to watch.
LUIS SUAREZ – Last, but most certainly not least, is that man Luis Suarez. I’m convinced he’s the best player I have seen play for Liverpool and ever will see play for Liverpool. He blew away his opposition and pulled his side through so many games and almost (not quite) was the catalyst to an elusive Premier League title for the Reds. An amazing player who would surely feature in most people’s world XI.
A few who missed the cut…
Who would you have in a Liverpool XI from 1996 onwards?