FLASHBACK: First Liverpool team of the Millennium
He shoots… he doesn’t score!
With the New Year quietly flirting upon the horizon, The Spoiler has taken the opportunity to bid “ahoy” to some of the lovely teams that graced beautiful stadiums at the beginning of the Millennium.
Below is how Liverpool lined up when they paid a visit to White Hart Lane on 3rd January 2000. And lost 1-0.
Goalkeeper, Sander Westerveld
Westerveld was dealt something of a double cock punch in 2001, when Gerard Houllier decided to buy in two new goalkeepers, Dudek and Kirkland. He took the hint and buggered off. Before that, however, he’d enjoyed two pretty decent years at Anfield, not least the one where they won all of the cups, except the really big one. They got that a few years later.
Right Back, Vegard Heggem
Poor luckless Heggem looked magnificent when he started for Liverpool. He had pace by the bucketload. Unfortunately he was dealt a cruel card by Lady Luck, and kept doing in his hamstring. He eventually retired in 2003, and now runs a salmon fishing business in Norway. True story.
Centre Back, Sami Hyypia
Probably the second greatest footballer from Finland, after fellow Liverpool alumni Jari Litmanen, and almost definitely the best defensive buy in recent Liverpool history, Hyypia arrived at the club as a complete unknown in 1999, then received a very warm ovation during a tearful farewell in May. Job done.
Centre Back, Stephane Henchoz
For the first part of the Millennium, many would argue that Hyypia and Henchoz provided one of football’s great defensive partnerships. Unfortunately, the moment Benitez thought to try Carragher out at centre back, it pretty much spelt curtains for the Swiss. He then took a short tour of Celtic, Wigan and his old stomping ground, Blackburn.
Left Back, Dominic Matteo
Only eight months after this match, Matteo left Liverpool to join Leeds. He’d been at the club for about eight years. Interestingly, after a cap for the England B team, he then went on to represent Scotland. Is that allowed?
Right Midfield, Jamie Carragher
In his early days at Liverpool, Carragher stood out for two reasons. Firstly, because his post-match interviews sounded exactly like a man standing in front of you hacking, snorting, coughing, and relentlessly clearing his throat. Secondly, because he was a “utility player”, often found plugging gaps all over the pitch. Now, of course, he’s a bona fide centre back, and the world has since realised that the hacking and snorting is just his way of talking to people.
Centre Midfield, Dietmar Hamann
Alongside the likes of Boris Becker and Natassja Kinski, Hamann is yet another in a growing list of Germans that the nation has taken to their collective hearts. What a player he was for Liverpool – many would argue that during his time at the club he was just as/if not more important than Alonso was last year. He left in 2006 to visit Man City for a bit, and can now be found expressing his views in various television studios.
Centre Midfield, Steven Gerrard
Back in 2000, Gerrard’s career was in its infancy, as he became the latest teenage sensation at Anfield, and he was still about six months away from his first England cap. Fast forward ten years, and he was just named in Fifa’s World Team of the Year. Not bad going.
Left Midfield, Patrik Berger
Berger had a topsy-turvy career at Liverpool between 1996 and 2003, and he even managed to ruffle kindly little Roy Evans’ feathers by not being team-minded enough. Still, when he was good, he was brilliant. He can now be found occasionally dusting down his scoring slippers for Sparta Prague.
Forward, Vladimir Smicer
Bought in 1999 to plug the McManaman-shaped hole in the side, Smicer, like Berger, was another Czech who endured a bumpy Liverpool ride. However, all incosistencies were surely forgiven on that fateful evening in Istanbul when he came on to replace Kewell, scored a goal, then pulled another one out of the bag during the penalties. Now works with the Czech national team.
Forward, Titi Camara
Camara only managed to stay at Liverpool for one year, but he still made something of an impression on the fans. So much so that they voted him into their Top 100 Liverpool Players of all time. He was, like, 91st or something. Has since taken a tour of other football clubs – including West Ham – and has dipped a toe into management.