Michael Baddeley continues his series reviewing the best signings that Liverpool have made in the summer transfer window.
In the previous installation of the series, Michael picked Sami when Hyypiä and Gary McAllister as his two players. Lets see who he pulls up from memory lane this time, shall we?
Dirk Kuyt – £10 Million
Liverpool were becoming a real force again when Rafael Benitez signed Dutch international Dirk Kuyt back in the summer of 2006. The season prior they’d won the FA Cup and finished 3rd on 82 points. There was a real belief that the club were on the brink of something special under the Spanish manager.
Liverpool signed Kuyt from Feyenoord where the Flying Dutchman had an impressive 71 goals in 101 games played for the club. Understandably, there was some excitement amongst the fans about this transfer. Within weeks plaudits were sent his way and rightly so. He was a workhorse and a nuisance to the opposition even if he didn’t have the ball, something the fans really appreciated.
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His first season was a massive success. His stand-out moment came against Chelsea in the semi-final of the Champions League. He had a goal disallowed in extra-time, but that wouldn’t stop him from keeping his cool and going on to score the winning penalty and sending Liverpool through to the final where they would face AC Milan again. Despite a late goal from the Dutchman, Milan won the game 2-1 and took the famous trophy back to Italy.
The following season would see him moved to the right wing to accompany the arrival of Fernando Torres. Many thought this could possibly see a dip in form but his tireless performances and a total of twelve goals ensured that he kept his place in the team. He was also proving to be the man for the big occasions. A goal against Inter Milan set up another Champions League semi-final vs Chelsea, the third in four seasons, in which he scored a goal in the first leg at Anfield. We can’t forget his two penalties in a 2-1 win at Goodison either can we?
In the seasons following Kuyt had several high moments. Vital goals in important games in his third season only furthered to his ‘man for the big game’ label. He scored the winner in the 2-3 win vs Man City where Liverpool were 2-0 down at one point. Two more goals against Everton the following season, one of which proved to be his 50th goal for the club. His most memorable moment in his time on Merseyside was a hat-trick from a collective six yards out against Manchester United in 2011. In what proved to be his final season he scored Liverpool’s second goal in the Carling Cup final and converted his spot kick.
He may have lacked technique and wasn’t overly entertaining, but he made up for this in his work-rate, love for the club and knack of delivering in the big games. Thus resulting in him being seen as Liverpool’s “Working Class Hero”. Personally, I believe Kuyt is one of the most underrated players Liverpool have ever had. We might have realised his quality, but rival fans and the media alike didn’t seem to appreciate what we saw.
Dietmar Hamann – £8 Million
Like Sami Hyypia and Gary McAllister in the last article, Didi Hamann joined the club with Gerard Houllier at the helm. After spending one season in the Premier League with Newcastle he made the jump to the club and was put in-front of the back four to help solidify Liverpool’s defence along with Henchoz and Hyypia.
Hamann wasn’t a player who would do the fancy things, but he did the right things. His reading of the game meant he could he could manage the game from deep, dictating the game, speeding up or slowing the play down if needed. His presence on the pitch meant that other players around him could go on to express themselves. Especially a certain Steven Gerrard. He wasn’t labelled the ‘Kaiser’ for no reason.
He established himself as a first team player in his first few seasons at the club and was another one who played his part in the success we were blessed with in the noughties era, especially in the first five years.
Whilst playing for the club he won eight trophies (not counting the Charity Shield), five of these came between 2001 and 2003. But he played his part in the other three trophies the club won. Most famous of these being the Champions League triumph in Istanbul back in 2005.
Earlier on in the competition Liverpool faced Bayer Leverkusen but missed club captain Stevie G through injury. No problem, Didi filled the void and played a key part in the 3-1 win. He even got in on the act himself with a well executed free-kick. Didi started the final on the bench, but still played a key part that eventful night. Coming on at half-time for Steven Finnan with a broken toe, he was the catalyst for the greatest comeback seen in a European final. He silenced Brazilian Kaka, allowed Gerrard to push forward and helped rally the troops. Despite having a broken toe and playing 75 minutes of football he showed the composure to step up and cooly slot away a penalty.
The following season he would play his part in another epic 3-3 final. This time in the FA Cup against West Ham. Again the German came off the bench, this time in the second half, again Liverpool went on to lift the trophy and Didi scored a penalty in the shoot-out with his last touch in the famous red.
I personally believe Didi was an unsung hero in his time at Liverpool. He might be one of the popular players amongst fans, but he was never given the full credit due. The effect he had on the team was incredible at times, as shown in Istanbul that night, and I still find it hard to believe he wasn’t appreciated as much as he should have been.
Featured Image – Talk Sport