SINGAPORE – Sami Hyypia has been retired for over a decade but Liverpool’s frenetic end to last season revived memories of one of the most memorable highs of his career.
In May, the Reds were chasing an unprecedented quadruple of the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup but eventually had to settle for a domestic Cup double.
Former skipper Hyypia, in town as a club ambassador for the Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy match with Crystal Palace on Friday (July 15), drew parallels of this year’s multiple-trophy charge to the one he experienced in 2001.
That campaign, the Merseyside club claimed won a treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup (now Europa League).
“Those last weeks are the hardest,” Hyypia, who hung up his boots in 2011, told The Straits Times in an interview, arranged by Liverpool’s principal partners AXA, at the Ritz Carlton.
“We had the FA Cup final, the Uefa Cup final and then we had the last game of the season (inside seven days) which if we won, we would finish in the Champions League place. We won all three games and that made our season.”
To negotiate such a run-in, the 48-year-old Finn said, a “very tough mentality” is needed, but that is something the current squad already possess.
And while surrendering their Premier League title to rivals Manchester City and the Champions League to Real Madrid may have hurt the players, Hyypia believes it has not deflated them. In fact, he believes it gives them added belief.
“We showed great consistency last year , losing only four and in the Premier League only twice. So what else do we have to do to win more?” mused the former centre-back, who played 464 games for the Reds.
“I think that somehow, what happened last season will give the players the confidence to carry on with the same consistency.”
He also pointed to an anecdote about how vice-captain Virgil van Dijk reportedly demanded his teammates watch the Madrid players lift the Champions League trophy after their defeat inside the Stade de France in Paris instead of retreating back into the locker room.
“Maybe he did that because he wanted them to feel: Hey, we want to lift the Cup (next time),” said Hyypia. “And I think they will be ready to compete again this season.”