Goalkeeper: Pepe Reina
A pretty easy choice in all honesty. 3 golden gloves in your first 3 seasons in the Premier League should tell the story. Pepe is also one of the nicest blokes you could meet and his antics after Spain’s Euro 08 win show the lively character he brings to the dressing room. This guy will no doubt line up in the next team of the decade too and write himself into Liverpool history. Bring it on.
Right Back: Markus Babbel
Somewhat of a tough choice between Babbel and Steve Finnan, especially given that Finnan arguably contributed more to the football club than Babbel did. But Babbel was an absolute class act and was an almost ever-present during the marathon treble season, playing an incredible 60 games, popping up with the odd important goal – including one in Merseyside Derby and the Uefa Cup Final – and numerous assists from the right. Add in the fact he turned down Real Madrid to sign for us, the unfortunate way his LFC careeer ended and the view he is our best right back since Rob Jones he rightly earns his place in my team.
Centre Back: Sami Hyypia
Where do you start to describe the contributions of our Big Finn? It’s been said before but he is a player that symbolises everything I love about our club. Dedicated, professional and a class act both on and off the pitch. An absolute legend of a man and a crying shame he never had a testimonial match before he departed, although the Spurs match was pretty much that. It’s also a shame he didn’t quite complete his collection of silverware at Anfield, having won every trophy possible except the elusive title. From a personal point of view, I was there at his home debut against Arsenal in 1999 which signalled the start of my match-going days, and standing on the Kop in May watching him depart rounded off a decade of memories for me following the Reds and Sami was there at every one. Thanks Sami.
Centre Back: Jamie Carragher
Another incredibly easy choice. Again though, where do you start to sum up the last ten years of Jamie Carragher’s Liverpool career? Immediately your mind flashes back to that night in May 2005 and images of Carra’s cripping cramp, last ditch blocks in the penalty area, leaping for joy and celebrating on his own! Then you think of the performances he put in on the road to Istanbul.
Then there’s his honest and forthright views in the media, passionate post-match interviews and superb autobiography which all add to the legend that is Carra.
Left Back: John Arne Riise
A not so talented selection to choose from here and JAR gets my pick by default really as there hasn’t been anyone challenging this position in the last decade. That’s not that JAR isn’t in on merit though. Some fans are far too quick to forget the great contributions he brought to the club prior to his final season and that own goal. You forget he made over 300 appearances for the club, scoring an impressive 31 goals from left back, serving the club for seven years and providing many a great memory. From his infamous free-kick against the Mancs, his Super Cup goal when he first arrived in 2001 and the absolute thunderbolt against Spurs more recently. Definitely the best left-footed player to have graced Anfield in the last decade.
Right Midfield: Steven Gerrard
How can any team of the decade not be complete without our talisman? The number of games Gerrard has dragged us through, especially when you think back to the last stages of Houllier’s days, is incredible. You cannot argue we have been over-reliant upon him over the last decade. And you know what, he’s stood up to the challenge. The countless vital goals; Istanbul, FA Cup Final 2006, Olympiakos… the list is numerous. I’ve stuck him on the right here but he didn’t do bad the season Rafa stuck him out there! He’d have licence to roam in my team here, along with Little Luis on the other wing.
It’s definitely fair to say we haven’t had a quality right winger over the last decade and is another reason why Gerrard is picked here. In fact, while doing this team it became abundantly clear the lack of any wide midfielder of top quality is sadly lacking.
Centre Midfield: Didi Hamann
Another absolute true professional on and off the pitch. A leader, a gent and a character. Not a bad footballer to boot! I guess the closest we have to Didi today is Mascherano but, for me, Didi was much the better player and contributed more to the team overall than the Chief does. He broke up play but also provided plenty of creative passing and an eye for goal. Remember the volley against Portsmouth anyone?
He’ll always be mostly remembered for changing the game in Istanbul, not forgetting taking a penalty with a broken foot! Another player to have won every trophy at the club but the elusive title.
Anyone whose read Carra’s book will know what Didi brought to the dressing room too in terms of character!
Centre Midfield: Xabi Alonso
Not a tough choice for me here, Xabi brings a lot to the team. Like a lot of those named here he’s another professional, a player you’d love as a team mate and as a supporter a player you grew to have an affinity with. His range of passing would improve any team in the World, and any player alongside him. A supposed defensive midfielder but again offers much more in terms of creativity, passing, shooting and free-kicks. Any player with the ability to score from inside his own half not once but twice (and come close a few other times) is a player of high quality. Endearing memories of course include Istanbul and his penalty which brought us level, queu pandemonium in the Ataturk. A midfield of Xabi and Didi would be incredible, nobody would get to the back four for starters and the range of passing from midfield would be incredible!
Left Midfield: Luis Garcia
We’ve got quite a workman-like team thus far, appropriate given that Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez have managed us through this decade, bit Little Luis will add that little bit of flair every top team needs (and what we are missing at present). Maybe he frustrated at times but any player prepared to try something different always will. Another member of the Istanbul team, Luis scored the memorable goals against Juve and Chelsea to get us there and numerous others in his three seasons at the club. Another likeable character and a succesful signing by Rafa in his first season, adding that extra bit of quality we needed at a crucial time.
Forward: Fernando Torres
Has a foreign player signed for any club, let alone Liverpool, and so quickly adapted to the style of football, become immersed in the club and the city and understood the fans and the club? Has any player ever arrived and had a more impressive first three seasons for Liverpool? I struggle to remember such an instance, not at least in my memory. When you talk about role models for kids you can’t do much better than The Kid. It’s staggering to think he is still yet to have won any silverware at this club and I sincerely hope he goes on to remain here long enough to win many trophies rather than just the personal accolades he has been inundated with since his arrival on Merseyside in 2007.
Forward: Michael Owen
A lot of people might not be happy with this selection but ive tried to go on 2 criteria; contribution to Liverpool FC in the last decade, and ability of the player. Ive tried not to let his current employer cloud my judgement of a player who scored over 100 goals in the last decade for us and became the first Liverpool player to win the European Footballer of the Year in 2000. A player who single-handedly (with a little hand from Stephane Henchoz) won us the FA Cup in 2001 and goalscoring wise led us through our most entertaining season of the decade. Also, aside from Torres and Owen, and Fowler who could have been included for sentimental reasons but whose contributions to the club were much greater in the nineties, we’re hardly spoilt for choice; Diouf, Le Tallec, Baros and Cisse didn’t quite make the mark.
I enjoyed putting that team together, I’d love to watch them play as a team, and one thing’s for sure, if they were all playing for Liverpool at the same time we wouldn’t be sat here waiting for number 19.