Sami Hyypia (1973)
Sami Hyypia (October 7, 1973) was an impressive defender who, partly thanks to his training with Willem II in Liverpool, could become a legend.
The Finn was scouted by Willem II in his home country, at MyPa 47, the club for which Jari Litmanen also played. He signed a contract in Brabant in 1995. At that time, the Tricolores were a neat middle driver in the Eredivisie. At that time he played together with renowned footballers such as Geoffrey Prommayon, John Feskens, fellow countryman Joonas Kolkka and Jack de Gier.
Hyypia made an impression in Tilburg. He was difficult to pass, strong and he was a real leader. It became even better when Co Adriaanse became Willem II's trainer. In 1998 the team finished fifth and thus qualified for the UEFA Cup. In 1999 the fairytale became even more beautiful. Willem II finished second behind Feyenoord and thus achieved almost the impossible. The team was allowed to play in the Champions League.
Hyypia would no longer experience that champion ball with his Tilburg teammates. It was bought by Liverpool for about 3.5 million euros. There he was in the beginning the great unknown, but gradually he grew into a legend at The Reds. He would play for ten seasons with the team and be a major mainstay in the rear. With the team he won many awards, including the UEFA Cup in 2001, the FA Cup in 2006 and the Super Cup in 2005. His best prize was of course the Champions League in 2005. In the crazy game against AC Milan, the team managed to make up a 3-0 deficit and then win the cup on penalties. The Big Fin has played 464 appearances for Liverpool and is considered one of the club's best center-backs ever. Also watch Hyppia's impressive farewell at the club.
In 2009 Hyypia opted once more for a new adventure. Willem II hoped to be able to tempt him to end his career in Tilburg, but he chose to play at Bayer Leverkusen for two more years. He ended his career there in 2011 and is now a manager.
Sami Hyypia, one of the best Finnish football players of all time, along with Jari Litmanen, has played 105 international matches. He was no less than seven times footballer of the year in his homeland.
(Photo: ANP – Toussaint Kluiters)