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Past Players: Volume 6 - Sami Hyypia

Sami Hyypia was at Liverpool Football Club for a fantastic 10 years. As Houllier's signing in 1999, I grew up with the Finnish defender commanding the Liverpool back four. From a relatively unknown element brought into the Liverpool side he flourished into a fan favourite and a legend in his own right.

Image: thehardtackle.com

The Basics

Full Name: Sami Hyypia
Nickname: "Big Sami"
Date Of Birth: 7th October 1973
Born in: Porvoo, Finland
Height: 6'5"
Position: Defender

Background

Hyypia was born into a footballing family as his Mother was an amateur goalkeeper and his Father played for Finnish side Pallo Peikot. His early sporting days saw him take up Ice Hockey whilst in school which is a popular choice in the Scandinvian countries but the footballing influence eventually filtered its way through to Sami.

After retiring from football Hyypia set up a charitable fund to help encourage and support young athletes from Finland. He ran the Helsinki marathon in August 2011 in 3hours and 56minutes to help raise funds.

Finnish Roots

Sami's early career saw him sign for his local team KuMu where he played in several positions. In 1992 he signed for MyPa who were in the Premier division of Finnish football. Jari Litmanen was one of his team mates in 1992 and Sami won the Finnish Cup twice in his time at the club.

Sami scored 8 goals in 96 appearances for MyPa.

Willem II

In 1995 Sami left his home country and signed for Willem II who at the time were in the top flight of Dutch football. Willem II at the time were renown for their high levels of fitness and Hyypia had to work extremely hard in his time within the Dutch side.

Hyypia spent 4 years in the Netherlands and scored 3 goals in 100 appearances for Willem II.

Liverpool

It was actually a cameraman who filmed European football that recommended Sami Hyypia to the Liverpool staff and when Ron Yeats went to see Hyypia play he was more than impressed, after several visits Hyypia was eventually signed by Houllier in 1999 for £2.6million.

Hyypia started out as a risk for many Liverpool fans because to most he was an unknown player of unknown talent but he would prove himself almost immediately as a strong and confident centre back.

Just two years in to his Liverpool career Hyypia was a vital part of the side that won the treble in 2001 winning the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.

In 2002 Sami Hyypia was named as captain but his role was taken away by Steven Gerrard in 2003. Some fans argued that his performances had become sloppy in the year he was captain but everyone is entitled to a poor season, especially when you remain at a club for 10 years.

Sami Hyypia was extremely well behaved on the pitch and received his one and only red card in his career in a predictably heated game against Manchester United.

When Rafael Benitez turned up at the club, Hyypia must have been wondering whether he was in the Spaniard's plans but he had no need to worry because he was, very much so. Rafa put Jamie Carragher into the centre to work with Sami Hyypia and their partnership went from strength to strength.

2005 brought Hyypia's career highlight at Liverpool Football Club and arguably ever. He was a vital pin in the Liverpool side that fought their way to the Champions League Final and then fought hard again to create a footballing miracle coming back from 3-0 down in Istanbul to beat AC Milan on penalties.

In 2006 Hyypia was involved in another cup win as he started against West Ham in the FA Cup final. He also put himself into the top 25 for all time appearances at Liverpool Football Club. By 2008 he had pushed into the top 20.

In May 2009 it was announced that Hyypia had agreed a deal to move to Bayer Leverkusen. Hyypia played his last game for the Reds at the end of that May as he came on as a substitute and Steven Gerrard placed the captains armband on him as he entered the fray for the final 5 minutes. It was an emotional day for Hyypia and the whole of Anfield gave the much loved defender a standing ovation at the final whistle.



Hyypia scored 35 goals in 464 appearances for Liverpool and he won 10 trophies in the 10 years he was at the club.


Bayer Leverkusen
After Liverpool Sami decided to continue playing instead of accepting a coaching role at the club. Hyypia made his debut in August for Bayer Leverkusen and they finished 4th in his first season with them. 
He spent 2 years with the German side and scored 3 goals in 53 appearances. On the 2nd of May 2011 Hyypia announced that he was to end his football playing days.


Finland
Hyypia made his first appearance for the National side in 1992 at the age of 19. Hyypia has featured in many games for Finland including European Championship and World Cup qualifiers and he is currently the second most capped Finnish player ever.
Image: uefa.com
Managerial/Coaching Career
After retiring Hyypia took up positions on coaching teams at the Finland national side and also at Bayer Leverkusen. Hyypia is currently manager of Bayer Leverkusen and they finished the 2012 season in 5th place.


Honours

MyPa
Finnish Cup - 1992, 1995

Liverpool
FA Cup - 2001, 2006
League Cup - 2001, 2003
Community Shield - 2001, 2006
UEFA Cup - 2001
Champions League - 2005
UEFA Super Cup - 2001, 2005

Personal
Finnish Sports Journalist Player Of The Year - 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
Finnish FA Player Of The Year - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
Finnish Sports Person Of The Year - 2001
Goal.com Central Defender Of The Decade - December 2009
Soccer Aid Winner - 2010

Kirsty W

Kirsty; Award winning Liverpool FC blogger and social media addict.