After announcing his retirement from football, we've turned the clock back to recall Sami Hyypia's top ten moments in a Liverpool shirt.

sami hyypia

1 Sami who...Ron Yeats mark II

When Gerard Houllier splashed out a little over £2 million on a Finnish centre back plying his trade in Holland, it would be fair to say one or two eyebrows were raised.

Le boss had made strengthening a brittle and somewhat porous defence a priority, but few could claim to have heard much about one of Willem II's star performers.

Still, Kopites need not have worried. Sami may well have been just one of seven newcomers in Gerard Houllier's French Revolution, but he would ultimately go on to stand out as the pick of the bunch.


However, back in the summer of 1999 few would have backed him to become an Anfield legend at the time of putting pen-to-paper - including his new teammates.

"They all had this look on their face, 'Who's this Hyypia... where does he come from?", he recalled years later.

"Some people didn't have a clue who I was.

"Maybe they thought someone had lost their way and walked into the training ground by accident."

Standing at a commanding 6ft 4 inches it wasn't long before everyone knew who Sami was. A few games into his Reds career and he was already being hailed as the new Ron Yeats - somewhat fitting given that the man Shanks dubbed his Colossus was the one who was sent to make a scouting report on the Finn.

Over the past 10 years you could count Sami's off days on one hand, but don't just take our word for it.

Even Sami's debut was solid, as the Daily Post reported in August 1999 after Liverpool beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Hillsborough.

"Defensively, works remains. While Jamie Carragher was exemplary alongside the impressive Sami Hyypia, the full-backs looked ill-at-ease..."

2 The first goal

Six games into his Liverpool career and Sami endeared himself to the Anfield faithful with his first goal for the club against arch-rivals Manchester United.

It had been an indifferent start to the 1999-00 campaign for Gerard Houllier's new-look Reds and they took on the reigning European champions having won three and lost two of their opening five matches.

Fresh from a 2-0 victory over Arsenal the home side went into the contest determined to get one over on Alex Ferguson's side, but it never really looked on the cards as two own goals from Jamie Carragher and a header from Andy Cole gave the away side a 3-1 lead at half-time.

The one glimmer of hope for Liverpool had been provided by Hyypia himself.

The giant Finn's diving header on 25 minutes came after goalkeeping debutant Massimo Taibi had totally misjudged Jamie Redknapp's deep free-kick.

Patrik Berger pulled another goal back 20 minutes from time, but United held on to claim the victory.

For the majority of players and fans alike, this fixture is a largely forgettable affair, but for Hyypia the solace of his first goal for the club makes it more memorable.

"We may have lost this game and a lot of fans have bad memories of it, but for me it was very important," he told 'Oh Sami, Sami'.

"It was my first goal for Liverpool in a big game against Manchester United at Anfield. Because it was early on in my career too, it made the fans like me."

3 The partnership

On October 2, 1999 Gerard Houllier finally got the chance to pair Sami Hyypia with Stephane Henchoz.

It was a selection that paid dividends almost immediately as the Reds kept a clean sheet in a drab 0-0 draw at Aston Villa.

Little did we know it at the time, but it was the debut showing of a defensive partnership that would go on to rival some of the greatest in the club's history.

In 184 matches together the duo helped the Reds keep 84 clean sheets and their stubborn rearguard action was hailed as one of the key factors in the 2000-01 treble success.

henchoz hyypia

Speaking in 2002, Hyypia gave his verdict on an almost telepathic understanding that had helped thwart some of the most feared forwards in Europe.

"I always know on the field what Stephane is thinking in every situation and it's good when we play together," he said.


"We don't have to talk on the pitch to know what the other one is doing. We do things automatically and it's much easier that way."

Sami's appreciation of the Swiss defender was more than mutual with Henchoz hailing the Finn as the greatest centre back he has played alongside.

"We've played a few good seasons together and I'm happy to be back playing alongside him," he said in 2004.

"If I think of all the central defensive partners I have played alongside in my career, I would definitely say that Sami would probably have to be the best.

"He's been fantastic at Liverpool and he manages to do it in every game. I know how good a player Sami is and how he important he is to Liverpool. He is a very special player."

4 Clean sheets against the Catalans

Few had given Gerard Houllier's charges much hope of reaching their first European final in 16 years when Liverpool took on Barcelona in the last four of the 2001 UEFA Cup - particularly as Barca were able to boast the attacking genius of the Brazilian superstar Rivaldo.

But the Reds revelled in the role of the underdog and Hyypia continued to demonstrate why he was one of the finest centre-backs in the game to leave the Catalan fans waving white handkerchiefs at full-time.


Fourteen days later and Sami went on to surpass his display at the Nou Camp, once again nullifying the threat of Rivaldo and co to ensure Gary McAllister's first-half penalty sent Liverpool to the final in Dortmund.

While most Kopites remember the game for Patrick Kluivert's crazy attempt at 'volleyball', Sami's performance didn't go unnoticed by his teammates. In fact, Jamie Carragher recently cited it as the match he regards as Sami's best in a Liverpool shirt.

"It's not easy because Sami's been so consistent over the years," said Carra.


"I think if I was pressed to choose one game though it would be the second leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final against Barcelona in 2001.


"Rivaldo was Barcelona's big threat back then and he was rightly regarded as one of the best in the world so we knew we would have to play well to be able to deal with him.


"Sami was outstanding. For me that was the time when he was probably at his very best and I can remember him making one really big tackle on Rivaldo and that pretty much summed up his whole performance.


"When you look back at that season Sami was probably one of the big driving forces behind us winning the treble."

5 Make mine a treble...

For Sami Hyypia the 2000-01 campaign began with a routine opening day victory over Bradford City at Anfield.

A solitary second-half strike from Emile Heskey did the damage as the Reds avenged the previous season's 1-0 defeat at Valley Parade; a loss that effectively cost them a place in the Champions League.

As Kopites filtered out of a sun-drenched Anfield that afternoon, few could have envisaged that 62 matches later the Reds would have finally booked their place in Europe's elite competition, picking up three trophies along the way.

hyypiaHyypia would feature in 58 of those matches, once again producing imperious displays against the likes of Barcelona and Roma in the UEFA Cup, while helping to keep a clean sheet in both games against Manchester United as the Reds romped to a memorable league double over our fierce rivals.

The first trophy arrived in February when he played the full 120 minutes of a pulsating encounter with First Division side Birmingham City. Robbie Fowler looked to have won it before a stoppage time penalty from Darren Purse took the match at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium into extra-time and penalties.

Thankfully the Reds triumphed and as the season began to climax Liverpool found themselves facing the fixture pile-up of all fixture pile-ups.

A 2-2 draw at home Chelsea in the penultimate week of the season left them facing three massive games in a week.

It would begin with the small matter of a return to the Millennium Stadium and an FA Cup final clash with Arsenal. A UEFA Cup final against Alaves in Dortmund would follow before a must-win last day of the season league match at Charlton.

The mandate was simple... Three games - three wins required.

However, it looked like the Reds would fall at the first hurdle when Freddie Ljungberg finally gave the Gunners the lead their performance deserved midway through the second-half.

On a searing hot afternoon Liverpool looked spent. Thierry Henry was terrorising the Reds rearguard and Sami and co were having to push themselves to the limit to keep us in the match.

With time running out a hero was required to help snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

hyypiaStep forward Michael Owen, who struck twice in the last seven minutes to claim a famous victory.

It was an incredibly sweet moment for Sami, who had captained the side at the start of the day and whose afternoon got even better when he lifted the trophy alongside substitute Robbie Fowler.

With the FA Cup in the bag, Liverpool travelled to Dortmund for a UEFA Cup final that would prove to be even more dramatic. An own-goal from Geli deep into extra-time clinched a sensational 5-4 victory courtesy of the Golden Goal rule and secured a unique cup treble for the Reds.

Once again Sami lifted the trophy alongside substitute Fowler to leave Liverpool just one game away from an incredible season.

A first-half onslaught from Charlton looked like thwarting the Reds' hopes of securing Champions League football at the expense of Leeds, but Houllier's men improved in the second period and romped to a 4-0 victory to end a magnificent season in style.


6 Sami the skipper

At the start of the 2001-2002 season Hyypia continued where he had left off - lifting trophies.

With Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Fowler both absent, Sami finally got the chance to hold aloft a trophy on his own as the Reds eased to a 2-1 win over Man United in the Charity Shield.

A fortnight later he was back sharing the leadership as Robbie Fowler came off the bench to help him lift the European Super Cup following a 3-2 win over Champions League winners Bayern Munich.

hyypiaBy now fans were already accustomed to seeing the Finn lead the Reds into action and when Redknapp departed and Fowler left for Leeds, Hyypia was officially appointed as club captain of Liverpool on April 17, 2002.

Following the announcement assistant boss Phil Thompson said: "Sami has faced a strange scenario over the last 18 months in that Jamie was the captain and Robbie Fowler the vice-captain.

"Jamie obviously didn't play so much and Robbie was part of a rotation system in attack, but Sami has always been happy to step in.


"Even when he was the captain at the start of the Cup Finals there was never any animosity involved in sharing the duties. It showed what a great close-knit club we have when the lads lifted the trophy together.


"Sami was the obvious choice. He is not a screamer or shouter but gets things done in a quiet, self-assured way. Alan Hansen was very similar. He rarely shouted, but his sheer presence made him a wonderful captain.


"Sami has all the characteristics to do a fine job. His ambition now will be to lift the trophy in his own right."

The following season would prove to be somewhat disappointing in terms of the league campaign, but it did have its highlights, including a 2-0 Worthington Cup final win over Manchester United - Sami's first as club captain.

"I don't think anyone could argue that we didn't deserve to win because we dominated the game and took our chances well," he said.

"As soon as Stevie (Gerrard) opened the scoring, we never really looked like losing."

However, the rise to prominence of Gerrard and a slight dip in his own form, eventually led to the decision that saw the Huyton-born midfielder succeed him as skipper in October 2003.

On giving up the armband Sami was typically gracious.

Club Captain

He said: "I believe that captaincy will bring Gerrard to a new level. He's a young and talented English player, who has a great future ahead of him. He's a great lad on and off the pitch," he said.


"There was nothing dramatic over changing the captain. I didn't say anything because it was the manager's decision and I respect that.


"Being captain in England is not an easy job because it demands a lot from you, even outside the ground. I am the same lad whether I have the armband or not."


7 The Juventus volley

Having been relegated to the bench for the previous three league games, Sami returned to the starting line-up in place of the ineligible Mauricio Pellegrino for the visit of Italian giants Juventus.

Many observers felt the Turin side would prove too strong for Rafael Benitez's hopefuls, but Liverpool thought otherwise and duly set about ripping up the form book.

A supercharged start proved to be the key to winning the quarter-final tie and it was Sami who broke the deadlock in sensational style.

The Reds had already gone close through Milan Baros when Luis Garcia flicked on Steven Gerrard's right-wing corner for Hyypia to arrive and steer a fine volley beyond Gianluigi Buffon on 10 minutes.


It was the perfect way to return to the starting line-up and when Garcia doubled the advantage 15 minutes later Liverpool looked set for the last four.

However, a second-half header from Fabio Cannavaro gave the visitors hope and Sami and co had to be at their defensive best in the second-leg to earn the goalless draw that secured a semi-final with Chelsea.

Speaking later that year Sami admitted it had been one of the highlights of his season.

"That goal was something special for me and it gave us a good lift for that game," he said. "Luis scored another great goal as well.

"Like I say, It was a special night for me."

8 The miracle of Istanbul

For all the success of the treble season, Istanbul will always be the highlight of Sami's 10 year stay at Anfield.

To win the Champions League is to reach the pinnacle of your profession for most footballers, and yet, at half-time it was looking like being THE low point for Sami and co.

The Reds trailed AC Milan by three goals and had been left chasing shadows in what was a torrid 45 minutes for the men from Merseyside.

However, the scoreboard could have read very differently had Sami's towering header from Steven Gerrard's cross found the corner of Dida's net with the score still at 1-0.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be for the Finn.

A reshuffle at the break saw Djimi Traore join Sami and Carra as part of a three man defence and within 15 minutes of the restart Liverpool had produced a miracle to draw level.

It was fairytale stuff and just like his fellow defenders, Hyypia would play an important role in keeping Milan at bay as the Reds began to tire.

Indeed, he was on hand to clear a dangerous header back across goal in stoppage time to ensure the Reds made it safely through to extra-time.

With concentration levels wilting Liverpool's defence managed to hold firm throughout the extended period to see the match through to penalties where the Reds went on to claim victory and secure the fifth European Cup in our history.

On the eve of the final Sami had spoken about the traditions and trophy-laden past of Liverpool and how he hoped to add a new chapter to it.


"Learning the history is good and a lot of the old players are giving us their support," he said.


"Now I believe that when we win this trophy it will be the start of a good era and all the players here will be in the history books.


"That would kick-start the club to win more things and everyone knows that the club is in good hands with this manager (Rafael Benitez).


"For us it is important that there is someone in charge who knows his football. That has got us to the later stages of this tournament."


He added: "It will be my only chance to win this cup and I do not intend to let it slip away easily.


"Over the years I have been at the club I have seen the expectation, everyone is always remembering the good days when Liverpool were dominant in Europe.


"So this game is the opportunity to bring the cup home and to write our names into that history."

paradeA few days later Liverpool were Kings of Europe and Sami bore witness to one of the most spectacular homecomings ever - even surpassing the one he experienced as part of Gerard Houllier's treble winners.

"I think it's much better than 2001 and the amount of people that have come out to see us is just fantastic," he said. "It really is unbelievable and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.


"It is a great achievement and I am still wondering just what we have done. This is a great thing in my career and I now have a Champions League winners medal.


"The way we came back from 3-0 down shows you the character of this team and it is just one of the best days of my life. I hope we can win many more trophies for these fantastic supporters."

9 Rearguard record

Deportivo Saprissa were the unlikely opponents when Liverpool secured a new club record for consecutive shut-outs.

The Costa Rican outfit were beaten 3-0 in the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Championship and followed Middlesbrough, Chelsea, Wigan, Sunderland, Man City, Real Betis, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Anderlecht and West Ham in failing to break down the Reds' rearguard.

It was our 11th consecutive clean sheet and saw Rafa's boys replace Kenny Dalglish's 1987 side in the club's record books.

At the heart of the back four were Carragher and Hyypia.

The duo had been thrust together on Rafael Benitez's arrival during the pre-season of 2004-05 and after helping the Reds clinch Champions League glory, they were now reaching new heights as a partnership.

However, Sami would not be on the pitch to see out the record against Saprissa as he was replaced by Luis Garcia on 72 minutes with victory already in the bag.

It was a substitution that Carragher admits he was not best pleased with at the time.

"The defence's job is to get us a clean sheet, and while it's not necessarily something you think about during the game, the longer you go without conceding the more determined you are to keep the run going," he said later that season.


"I remember in Japan when we were going for the record for most clean sheets in a row. Even though we had the game won, I was a bit worried when Sami Hyypia was taken off because I really wanted us to make sure we didn't concede a goal, even though we'd already done the most important thing and won the game at that stage."

Boss Rafael Benitez was also keen to give his verdict on the shut-out record.

He said: "History means a lot at a big club like Liverpool, so it's great for the whole team to have achieved something so significant.

"They deserve to be in the history books."

10 Rolling back the years - the 4-1 thumping of United

Sami rolled back the years with a virtuoso performance at Old Trafford that will arguably go down as Liverpool's best league victory in living memory.

What make's Hyypia's outstanding display even more astonishing is the fact he did not know he was playing until seconds before kick-off.

An injury to Alvaro Arbeloa forced a defensive reshuffle and the Finn was drafted into the starting XI at the eleventh hour.


One particular left-footed touch saw him pluck the ball from the air inside his own penalty area. It was just one of the great moments on an unforgettable afternoon for the Reds and capped a sensational four day period, following the 4-0 rout of Real Madrid.

"It's been a good week," said Hyypia after the game. "I was just asked if I've had a week like this before and I couldn't think of one since in 2001 when we won a few cups in one week."

When asked about his impressive display following his late inclusion in the starting line-up his response was typically modest.

"I found out just a few minutes before we came out," he said.


"I was wondering how the first minutes would go but I got into it and had no problems."

Hyypia's performance quite rightly drew countless plaudits, with the legendary Alan Hansen summing up his contribution perfectly.

"He is a brilliant professional and he's been a big player for such a long time with Liverpool," he said. "He leads by example and never lets them down."

sami hyypia