By Andrew Fanko (Arisesirrafa).
Sami Hyypiä – The Finnished Article.
Cast your minds back, if you would, to the 1998/99 season. Liverpool’s raft of senior centre-backs that year read as follows: Rigobert Song, Dominic Matteo, Steve Staunton, Phil Babb, Bjørn Tore Kvarme and a raw Jamie Carragher.
Hardly a list of names to have the Premier League’s best strikers of that period quaking in their boots, was it? And so it proved, as the team conceded a disappointing 49 goals in 38 league games to limp home in seventh place. With the second-best attack in the division (Patrik Berger contributing admirably to the tallies of Owen and Fowler), it was clear where the Reds’ deficiencies lay, and Gérard Houllier made it a priority to sort out the centre of defence.
Fast forward 12 months and Liverpool finish fourth in the Premier League, with comfortably the best goals-against column (30 versus their nearest rival’s 34). With a nod and all due respect to Stéphane Henchoz and Sander Westerveld, the main reason for this dramatic turnaround was a giant Finn by the name of Sami Hyypiä.
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