A Tribute To The 2001 Liverpool Team

By on November 6, 2011

A few days ago, a friend happened to mention our famous team of 2001; the team that won five trophies in a year and beat such teams as Barcelona, Roma, Bayern Munich and Man United on the way – maybe controversially, but beat them all the same.

This got me thinking: whilst fans always talk about the 70s and 80s when The Reds were in their pomp, or The Miracle of Istanbul in 2005, or even Rafa’s runners up in 2009, the 2001 team gets overlooked in favour of more illustrious Liverpool sides. However, I’d go so far to say that Houllier’s team of the early noughties was every bit as good as the teams that succeeded it, and think that they deserve recognition as one of the great Liverpool sides.

In goal, we had Sander Westerveld. Whilst remembered less than fondly perhaps for his many mistakes in later years, in his heyday he was outstanding: lest we forget the crucial saves he made throughout the 2000-01 season, not least in The FA Cup Final against Arsenal where he kept The Gunners at bay almost single handed (with a little help from a Stephane Henchoz handball). The back four need no introduction: surely the best Liverpool defence of the last 25 years? The fabulous Markus Babbel at Right back, the ever dependable and superbly adaptable Carragher at Left back, and as the centre backs the legendary pairing of Hyypia and Henchoz.

In midfield, three players who will go down in folklore as Liverpool Legends. A young, hungry and supremely talented Steven Gerrard, voted PFA Young Player of the Year; Didi Hamann, a player who must rank alongside Claude Makelele as one of the greatest holding midfielders of the last 20 years; and Gary McAllister, he had no hair but we didn’t care as controlled the midfield, even at the ripe old age of 36. Alongside them was the not inconsiderable talent of Danny Murphy, Partrick Berger or Nicky Barmby: a superb midfield – not as good as the phenomenal Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard triumvirate of the late 2000s, but that says more about the incredible ability of those three players than anything else.

Finally in attack we had the duo of Michael Owen and Emile Heskey, backed up by the incomparable Robbie Fowler and the genius of Jari Litmanen, a player whom Anfield never really saw the best of, but who was still a yard or two ahead of everyone else when it came to his magnificent footballing brain.

When you consider that the Champions’ League winning team of 2005 featured the far lesser talents of Harry Kewell, Steve Finnan, Milan Baros and Djimi Traore as first choice players, it becomes ever more apparent just how special that team of 2001 really was. This Liverpool side was labelled as boring, but still scored 123 goals in that season, and Michael Owen won the 2001 Ballon D’or due to his efforts, not least his fabulous brace that won the FA Cup Final against the much fancied Arsenal.

Lest we forget, Liverpool FC 2001 – what a team.

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