The start and end of Liverpool’s perfect partnership that won the glory of the Champions League

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Few would consider May 19 as one of the many milestones in Liverpool’s long and illustrious history.

Of course, there was the return leg to the UEFA Cup final in 1976 when a 1-1 draw in Bruges brought the Reds a 4-3 overall triumph and their second European trophy.

And there was a 4-0 victory at Charlton Athletic in 2001 which ensured a very first qualification for the renamed Champions League.

But this day also marks the beginning and the end for members of a defensive duo who would help propel Liverpool into the 21st century, ensure a glut of trophies and organize one of the biggest nights in club history .

On May 19, 1999, Liverpool announced the signing of Sami Hyypia on the Dutch side Willem II for a modest £ 2.6 million.

Few supporters had really heard of the unannounced Finn. However, it was to become one of the biggest transfer deals the club has ever made, paying off its costs many times with a decade of service that has earned it 464 appearances, skipping the Reds and scoring 35 goals.

On May 19, 2013, Liverpool said goodbye to Jamie Carragher, making his 737th and last appearance for the club. He almost scored the occasion at the Queens Park Rangers home with a goal, beating a long-range shot against the woodwork that would have cut his career to just six. Notorious, he was more competent to put the ball in his own net.

Carragher, however, was not about goals. Like Hyypia, he talked about the art of defending.

And the pair have been on the Reds’ baseline for 10 years, first under Gerard Houllier and then Rafael Benitez.



Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher barks orders to teammate Sami Hyypia at Real Betis in 2006
Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher barks orders to teammate Sami Hyypia at Real Betis in 2006

Indeed, they were both in the starting line-up for this triumph at The Valley 19 years ago – Hyypia making his 100th appearance for the club – one of the few times they have been paired with the central defender under Houllier.

It was Benitez who, upon arriving at Anfield in 2004, moved Carragher alongside Hyypia, making permanent a partnership that would help Liverpool in the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006.

Carragher’s retirement seven years ago ended this defensive dynasty.

There have been good central defenders since – Daniel Agger lasted 23 more games the following season, Martin Skrtel a long-time servant, Kolo Toure providing experience in the later years of his career – but only the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 again raised the heart of Liverpool’s defense and improved those around him, with Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and in particular Joe Gomez the beneficiaries.

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With Van Dijk, Liverpool has taken another step forward, world champions for the first time and ending a 30-year wait for the title.

But in terms of partnership, the place of Carragher and Hyypia in the annals of Anfield is forever assured.

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