£2.5million. That’s all it took to get Dutch outfit Willem II to part with Finnish centre back Sami Hyypia back in May 1999. Looking back on all of Hyypia’s accomplishments over the past 10 years you’ve got to believe Williem II are kicking themselves for letting the player get away for such a low cost.
With news coming out today of his move to German club Bayer Leverkusen, it’s time to take a look back on what is surely Liverpool’s best signing in the last 10 years.
That’s not to say there haven’t been great signings at the club in the last decade; but if you look at the cost and sheer value Liverpool got for their signing, there’s no doubt Hyypia’s value stretched far beyond the £2.5million fee.
After helping Willem II secure a place in the Champions League, Hyypia made the move to Liverpool, where he immediately became a lynchpin in the Liverpool defence. His partnership with Stephane Henchoz led to instant success, as Liverpool secured the treble in 2000-01.
Hyypia’s ability to change his skills to fit the rough and tumble world of the Premier League from the moment he joined Liverpool made him a rarity in the football world. Whilst it took others sometimes upwards of three to four months to get their feet under them, Hyypia was locked in from the start. His ability to fill a role when called upon made the centre back invaluable during his 463 appearance for the Anfield club.
When Jamie Redknapp went down during the 2001 season, it was Hyypia who came on to vice-captain the club, doing an admirable job in the process. He retained the captain’s armband until the 2003 season when he handed it over to Steven Gerrard. But that was Sami, always looking to help and never thinking about himself — he was the consummate professional in every sense of the word. It was no wonder why Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez made him a staple in their squads.
When you think of shrewd signings at Liverpool, the likes of Ian Rush, Alan Hansen and Kevin Keegan come to mind. But there’s no doubt that with his time now officially over at Liverpool, Sami Hyypia deserves to be listed with these greats. He was never the flashy type, but when Liverpool needed someone to step up and be counted on, you could almost certainly expect the big Finn to be there at the front, ready and willing for the next challenge ahead.
Other stats of note:
- Made 463 appearance for Liverpool over his 10 years. (Top 20 in all-time appearances)
- 57 consecutive European games for Liverpool from November 2001 to February 2006.
- Won every European and domestic trophy available other than the Premier League.