The next episode of the Liverpool Partnerships series focuses on Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypiä.
Here @lfcliamgrimshaw strays away from the attacking side of the game to focus on one of the Reds greatest defensive partnerships.
The start of something special
Sami had long dreamed of playing for the Reds, having grown up an avid supporter in Finland. Carragher on the other hand grew up an in a blue family – the poor guy.
Eventually, Carragher switched allegiances and will go down a Red’s legend. With his exploits next to Hyypiä contributing to much of his legacy.
Sami was signed from Willem II, the season after captaining the Dutch side to Champions League qualification, for just £2.6m.
Speaking on The Fantasy Football Club back in 2017 Carragher said, “Sami Hyypia. One of the greatest signings in not just Liverpool’s history – £2.5m he was from a small club in Holland – but in Premier League history, the service he gave – what a fantastic footballer.”
“The only thing he lacked was a bit of pace, but he read the game fantastically well. Great in the air and on the floor as well.”
Hyypiä was part of Gerard Houllier’s treble-winning side in 2001. A season where he also captained the Reds regularly before becoming the first-choice captain the following season.
However, prior to the arrival of Rafa Benitez, it was rare to see the two players line-up next to each other at the heart of the Reds defence.
Carragher was largely used as a utility player across the back four, with Gerard Houllier opting to pair Hyypiä with Stephane Henchoz.
That all changed in the summer of 2004, and the two enjoyed a legendary season in 2004/05 (in European competition at least).
The arrival of Rafa Benitez
Hyypiä even contributed in the opponent’s box (something his defensive partner rarely did), scoring the decisive goal at Anfield against Juventus, and keeping a clean sheet in Turin.
A night where Carragher wore the captain’s armband due to Steven Gerrard’s suspension.
The two made a formidable pair at the heart of the defence. Hyypiä, more of a Rolls-Royce defender, elegant on the ball but hard in the tackle.
Carragher, on the other hand, was far more no-nonsense, putting his body on the line and his heart on his sleeve. Together, they made a near-perfect partnership.
The following season they conceded just 25 league goals, the least conceded by the Reds in the Premier League era (a feat we may see bettered this season).
Although neither of the pair had a great game (Carragher scoring an own goal and Hyypiä missing his penalty in the shootout) they also went onto win the FA Cup in 2006, once again in dramatic fashion.
It was during this season that Hyypiä was demoted once more from vice-captain to third-choice, with his defensive partner becoming Steven Gerrard’s second in command.
The end of an era
After the arrival of Daniel Agger, Hyypiä saw his action restricted and after playing at least 40 games every season he had been at Anfield, he only managed 29, 44 and 19 in his last three seasons on Merseyside.
Despite ending his time with arguably a better squad around him, Hyypiä only won one trophy after the 2006 FA Cup, the Community Shield (and everyone knows that’s not a major honour).
Hyypiä played his last game for the club against Spurs in the last game of the season. Coming off the bench in the 84th minute, and taking the captains armband from Gerrard.
He nearly ended on a high note, seeing his header from a corner saved by Gomes – so close to a fairy tale ending for the big Finn.
Funnily enough, Jamie Carragher, who was far less proficient in front of goal than Hyypiä, also nearly scored in his last game.
Four years after Hyypiä’s final game, the scouser’s long-range strike cannoned off the post against QPR.
While at Liverpool the two amassed a combined 1,201 games in all competitions and won two FA Cups, two League Cups, a Champions League, UEFA Cup, two European Super Cups and two Community Shields.
One of the all-time great Reds partnerships.