Symposium #9 – Who’s Your Favourite Ex-Player?

Symposium #9 – Who’s Your Favourite Ex-Player?
February 22, 2013 Paul Tomkins

This week’s topic was who’s your favourite former player who made fewer than 100 appearances for LFC? We ruled some out on the basis that they were unlikely to get any votes anyway – check this lot out:

Julian Dicks, Paul Stewart, Christian Poulsen, Torben Piechnik, Nabil El Zhar, Bruno Cheyrou, El Hadji Diouf,  Paul Konchesky, Philipp Degen, Mauricio Pellegrino, Gabriel Paletta, Charles Itandje, Pegguy Arphexad, Bernard Diomede, and Istvan Kozma! Ugh! Only Freddie Kruger missing from that list! 😉

By Damien Parsonage:

Jari Litmanen , no question.

As soon as I saw the topic I thought of Jari. Then I had to check if he’d played less than 100 games. Just 43 appearances for a player of his quality. Criminal really.

All my favourite players are those clever, tricky number 10 types; Beardsley, McManaman – and Suarez today.  I love their ability to do the unexpected, to see the ball no one else can see, to play the ball no one else can play.

Litmanen had all those qualities. His technique was sublime, his vision breathtaking.  He joined us in January 2001, aged 29, with much fanfare from Houllier – who was later to mysteriously ostracise the Finn.

In those early months he was magnificent.  One brilliant goal he was involved in I remember vividly. It was the day my son was born: 13th January 2001. Liverpool were playing Villa away, and Gerrard scored a goal of pure class in a 3-1 win for the reds.  It was a sweeping one-touch move. Gerrard laid the ball off to Litmanen by the centre circle, and the Finnish striker played a first time ball into Danny Murphy, who flicked it to Gerrard, who had continued his run. He lashed a shot from the edge of the area into the top corner. Beautiful.

Litmanen then got injured playing for Finland against England in March and missed the rest of the treble winning season.  The next season, something happened between him and Houllier. The rumours were Jari was passing on striking tips to Heskey after training and GH didn’t like it. Seems odd, but then Houllier did have some bizarre fallings out.

Whatever the reason, Litmanen was hardly used again. And at the end of the 2002 season, he went back to Ajax. A real shame, because he was a world-class talent.  And they don’t come along that often.

By Dave Cronin:

Neil Mellor’s career would seem fairly unremarkable. Just 204 career appearances (mostly for Preston). Just 22 appearances for Liverpool in which he mostly looked out of his depth. Yet some of the greatest moments of euphoria I’ve experienced were only possible because of him.

In 2003 Michael Owen wrapped up a Worthington Cup Final win against Manchester United sending Liverpool fans into a frenzy. But for Neil Mellor’s first Liverpool goal away in the semi-final first leg, it would have been Neil Warnock’s horrible Sheffield United team facing Fergie’s men at Cardiff that day.

In 2004, we were seconds away from being denied a deserved win against Arsène Wenger’s “unbeatable” League Champions when Mellor tried his luck with a long-range pot-shot that rocketed into the Kop goal prompting pandemonium. It was a sensational strike and a sensational result that gave the new Benitez era an early shot in the arm.

Then with Liverpool drawing 1-1 with Olympiakos and needing a win by 2 clear goals to progress to the Champions League knock-out stages, Rafa introduced Mellor as a 78th minute sub and he scored within two minutes to make it 2-1 with 10 minutes remaining. Then four minutes from time he set up Gerrard for THAT goal.

“Mellor. Lovely cushioned header to Gerraaaaaaaard!”

“Ooooooooh you beauty! What a hit, son! What a hit!”

And while there were many heroes along the way, without Mellor’s contribution that night, Juventus, Chelsea and Istanbul – the single greatest night of my life as a supporter – would never have happened.

Truly remarkable!

By Chris Rowland:

Maxi Rodriguez and Markus Babbel, both with 73 appearances, get a nod of respect. Likewise Momo Sissoko with 87, not least for his name fitting into that ‘Best Midfield in the World’ song that echoed round the backstreets of Monastiraki in Athens throughout the night after we’d lost to Milan in the CL final.  And he was pretty good before his eye injury too. The sadly departed Avi Cohen’s 24 appearances included one when he scored in a 4-1 win over Villa at Anfield that clinched the league title in May 1980, having already scored an own goal to put Villa level. And Erik Meijer, who in his 27 games revealed his main ability was to do the Joey Jones raised fist salute to rouse the crowd, which his playing ability never did! But at least he tried.

But for me it came down to a choice of two – the delicious, melted chocolate ball skills of Jari Litmanen, the purist’s choice, whose 43 appearances made him underused in my opinion, and  Gary McAllister, who gave us 87 games’ worth of his calming experience and know-how and that jaw-dropping last minute free kick to secure victory at Goodison in Houllier’s treble season in 2001. He also scored the UEFA Cup penalty that beat Barcelona and it was his cross that was headed in for the trophy-clinching golden own goal against Alaves in Dortmund. And we qualified for the CL for the first time too.

For the Goodison goal alone, it’s Gary Mac for me.

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