As Liverpool FC bid farewell to Melwood, the club’s legendary training ground for the last 70 years, we take a look through the best photos from the last 20 years.
Melwood has been part of the fabric of Liverpool Football Club since the 1950s and has witnessed 43 major honours, over 14 managers and countless players walk in and out of its famous doors.
It wasn’t always as pretty on the eye, with Bill Shankly labelling it a “sorry wilderness” as the pitches were riddled with divets and patches while inside there was no heating and paint was peeling off the walls upon his arrival in 1959.
It didn’t stay that way for long as Shankly and his men got to work, laying foundations for the many successful years which were to follow.
Over 60 years later, however, it is time for pastures new with Jurgen Klopp and co. to relocate to the new state-of-the-art AXA Training Centre in Kirkby – linking the academy with the first-team.
With the Reds to take to the Melwood pitches for the final time on the eve of the trip to Man City, a trip down memory lane is in order as we review some of the best photos from Melwood over the last 20 years.
In addition to its regular duties to prepare for the games ahead, it has also been the setting for new player unveilings – some more memorable for all the right reasons than others.
From Patrik Berger in 1996 to Dirk Kuyt in 2006, to Emile Heskey in 2000, Javier Mascherano in 2007 and Robbie Keane in 2008 – they were all given the Melwood treatment upon their arrival at the club.
And this is one where ‘a picture worth a thousand words’ comes into play – aside from the bloke on the far left, he always looked set for greatness…
Another memorable sight to grace the training base was ‘Pako Hill’, a brainchild of Rafa Benitez’s former assistant manager Pako Ayestaran.
As part of a bid to see Liverpool become one of the fittest teams in the world, the man-made hill was created in 2006 by mounting turf where players were then able to run up and down to improve their stamina.
The famous sweatbox, meanwhile, is a more common site on training grounds around the world, and was used by Benitez as an aid which sees players hit numbers on portable shooting boards arranged as a square.
The Spaniard’s training sessions were no walk in the park and a number of stars graced the pitches throughout his tenure.
Players of that era were also tasked with a photoshoot or two, with Gerrard pictured here inside Melwood for an Adidas shoot while Carra turned his hand for the club’s fashion catalogue – whether he looks best pleased I’ll leave to you to decide…
Fast-forward to the current manager and there have been a number of noteworthy moments and sessions with a team he has seen become World, European and English champions.
And the indoor pitch at Melwood was host to Klopp’s pre-Champions League final press conference in 2019, one of the final days before Liverpool’s European Cup tally became six.
It has also remained the home for club legends ahead of special charity matches throughout the years.
And one thing has never changed, and that’s the creative ingenuity of fans desperate to catch a glimpse of their heroes and their team over the walls which surround Melwood.
As Klopp noted on the eve of the club’s move, there are a lot of “mixed emotions,” but those who make the club what it is will still be there at Kirkby.
From Shankly to Klopp, Melwood has served the Reds well over the last 70 years and now a new future awaits where the first team and the academy can thrive together.