5 Most Unlikely Liverpool players that made you fall in love with the game

Football is known as the beautiful game for many reasons.

Whether it’s the spectacular goals that make you jump out of the chair, or witnessing those unbelievable comebacks that make grown-ass men cry, or even watching the remarkable David vs Goliath stories unfold that teaches you a lesson or two in everyday life - there are a million reasons for us to fall head over heels in love with the sport.

Well unless you follow the sport for the kits, boots or - we don’t know - VAR?, it is important to note then that there is one common denominator that pretty much exists across all the major reasons - and we are talking about the footballers here.

They are the artists who help capture the imagination of the young and old with a stroke of genius, magicians who entertain the masses with impossible feats that belies logic on a weekly basis and the architects behind every aspiring footballer’s dream.

A little cliché, but really, who wouldn’t want to be in their cleats, even just for a day?

Ronaldo celebrating for Juventus
Image Source: Reuters

Remember the days when you would always have someone during your neighbourhood kick-about that does everything he can do emulate his footballing idol? The flashy boots they wear, elaborate celebrations they execute and even the extravagant hairstyles they sport - footballers are demigods in their own rights.

But just for a moment, let us forget the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah or Sadio Mane.

This time, we will be shining the spotlight on the unsung heroes who taught us that there are one million ways to play the beautiful game.

They are not your usual superstars, nor would they be the first name you are printing on the back of your jersey.

But they are players who made the game a little

better in their own unique way - footballers whom fans paid good money to watch, entertainers who kept fans from halfway around the globe wide awake in the early morning to watch them on their TV screens.

Here is a list of the most unlikely of footballers who have dazzled at Anfield in their own distinctive way, ensuring that all of us fall in love with the sport over and over again.

There is a reason why the beautiful game is the most exhilarating sport in the world, and as Trent said, “No one wants to grow up to be a Gary Neville.”

That’s just boring.

5. Luis Garcia

Luis Garcia celebrating for Liverpool
Image Source: Liverpool FC

“Luis Garcia, he drinks sangria… he came from Barca, to bring us joy!”

So kicking off the list is a diminutive Spaniard.

Liverpool fans that followed the Reds throughout the 2000s will have been caught singing this famous anthem at least once, drunk or not. It is one of those songs that ranks right up there in the club’s history - the kind of football chant that sticks for months - with Si Senor probably the best one right now. It surely helps too when the player puts in performances to match.

To include Garcia in this list might be a little tricky, as he was actually quite the superstar himself. Liverpool fans love him to bits, and he is widely regarded as a club legend today - but one would think that the talent of the pint-sized Spanish was only appreciated within Anfield.

Garcia arrived at Liverpool from mighty Barcelona in 2006 as one of Rafa’s Spanish contingent. He was 26 when he arrived, which also meant that time was not exactly on his side.

The Spaniard took little time to settle, three goals in his first 10 games (including the belter against Charlton Athletic) quickly showed the Kop he might be something special. The number 10 went on to establish a strong connection with the fans, largely in part due to his European heroics - and there were quite a few feats he mustered.

The mercurial talent is perhaps one of the most gifted players we had, ridiculously two footed, good aerial ability, skilful and always puts in a shift.

He was simply a joy to watch and made things looked effortless as he danced around the pitch, a player that will quite simply make you fall in love with the game if you are watching it for the first time.

It is truly a mystery how rival fans were not more aware of this five-foot seven Spaniard, who belonged in football heaven.

Best moment: The sangria song has to be right up there, but who can forget his famous ghost goal?

4. Daniel Agger

Daniel Agger applauding
Image Source: Liverpool FC

Next on the list is a tattooed warrior who plied his trade at the heart of the defence, and no, not the Slovakian one.

Martin Skrtel was a really good defender, but he wasn't really on the same level as his defensive partner. Agger was perhaps the toughest pick of the lot here - he was a centre-back, and no one would exactly pay top dollars to watch a defender unless your first name is Virgil, and there is also a reason why defenders do not always have the most exciting highlight reels on YouTube.

But the Dane was a different animal. He had an assuring sense of calmness in his game that was not too common in defenders back then, often oozing class playing from the back, and was surely one of the pioneers that reshaped the way defenders played in today’s game.

Agger was renowned for his elegant playing style, often carrying the ball into midfield and setting up attacks with long diagonals or accurate short passes with his cultured left foot. He was blessed with a ferocious shot and good heading ability, scoring numerous important goals in his Anfield career.

He also added another dimension to the position, often demanding so much more from all around him and ensuring the “no-nonsense” job requirement was slowly removed from a centre-back’s responsibilities.

Having only played for two clubs in his career, the Danish was a dying breed of footballer who embodied loyalty and determination, making him a firm fan favourite. He was never an orthodox defender, but it was his gracefulness and class that elevated him to such high levels – and a true darling of the Kop.

We reckoned he made the position a little more sought-after, with kids aspiring to emulate his playing style - and his charming good looks surely did him a few favours too.

Best Moment: Peach of a goal against West Bromwich, and also the manner he scored the goal against Chelsea in the Champions League. Not quite what you’d expect from a centre-back.

3. Lucas Leiva

Lucas Leiva captain for Liverpool
Image Source: Liverpool FC

Unlike Agger, the Brazilian is on the list for entirely different reasons.

Lucas was neither blessed with the best footballing technique, nor was he the most graceful player on the pitch. But it was his never-say-die attitude that captured the hearts and minds of the Kop.

In his early days at Anfield, the very un-Brazilian Brazilian was constantly written off as a flop, and was so very often the scapegoat of poor team performances. He was never one to set the stage alight with flashy skills or dribbles; a Brazilian who hardly scores.

But here is a player that does the dirty work so elegantly, making the unglorified job well, glorified. Lucas did not possess the tackling abilities of Claude Makelele, but instead relied on his excellent positional sense and tactical awareness to snuff out danger quickly, establishing himself as one of the finest defensive midfielders in Europe.

Lucas had a quiet demeanour about him, and that was translated on and off the pitch. His performances on it always went under the radar as he so often went about his business protecting the back four with minimal fuss.

In the dressing room, it wasn’t long before his personality made him a key figure, with young and new players turning to the senior Brazilian whenever they needed help.

It is pretty remarkable to witness the journey of the Brazilian Scouscer at Anfield. It was without a doubt a rollercoaster ride, carrying the Brazilian through the lowest of lows and highest of highs.

From having the Kop turned against him in his earlier days to being voted Player of the Year, he surely went through the ride of a lifetime. The likes of Robinho – your “typical Brazilian footballer” – will likely stumble upon the very first hurdle they face, and that’s testament to the character and mental fortitude of the combative Lucas.

Talk about a terrible day at work: Fans turning against him, five different managers all constantly looking to replace him and long-term injury setbacks, Lucas overcame them all and taught us that hard work and the right attitude are traits that are very much part of the beautiful game.

Best moment: Voted Liverpool’s Player of the Year 10/11 by fans - the Brazilian started that season still splitting opinions, with many fans constantly on his back, viewing him as the symbol of failure in that dark period for Liverpool.

Lucas did what Lucas does though, brushing off critics, putting his head down and putting in solid performances one after another. His consistency not only saw him clinched the individual accolade, but was also called up for the national team that year.

Pretty impressive.

2. Yossi Benayoun

Benayoun celebrating for Liverpool
Image Source: Talk Sport

The slight Israeli midfielder had several spells in England; he donned the shirts of West Ham, Arsenal, Chelsea, QPR and most notably Liverpool.

Benayoun arrived at Merseyside with high expectations after two successful seasons at West Ham, inheriting the number 11 jersey from Mark Gonzalez. He of course switched to his preferred number 15 after Peter Crouch’s departure, and went on to deliver some truly memorable performances.

Benayoun slight frame placed him at a handicap in the physical Premier League, but his superb technical ability and remarkable football brain often meant that he towered heads and shoulders over his counterparts in duels. The technical aspects of his game were very sound – passing, playmaking, vision.

But it was his dribbling and skills that really stood out.

His dribbling was elegant, almost seem to be drifting around the pitch Ozil-esque, beating defenders effortlessly with a little drop of the shoulder. He was often able to charge forward to the opposition’s penalty box as such, and was a player who loved the ball at his feet.

Benayoun wasn’t the most prolific of attacking midfielders, but he was definitely more than capable of the spectacular. He scored some proper worldies in his career, including a couple for Liverpool, and it is such a shame that we do not have the HD version of some of the clips.

The Israeli magician showed the Kop how the number 10 role was meant to be played – simple yet elegant, and popping up with a few bangers while at it.

Best moment: Andrei Arshavin may have famously scored four goals against Liverpool, but sharp observers of that match would notice that it was the Israeli who truly stood out. Benayoun put in a truly man-of-the-match performance that night, and capped the night with two brilliant goals.

1. Adam Lallana

Image Source: AMA/ Getty Images

Rarely mentioned in the same breath as Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino, Lallana was at his peak arguably one of the most talented English players of all time. Ridiculously two-footed, the former Southampton man was in fact possibly the most naturally talented Englishman since Wayne Rooney.

Gareth Southgate once recognised Lallana as the “best player in the England team”, while countless of other teammates have acknowledged his exceptional talent during interviews.

Lallana is another player who loves the ball at his feet, and was naturally engineered to manoeuvre out of tight spaces. His ability to use both feet meant that he possesses a great first touch – very often executing a meaningful touch that allows him to gain an advantage over an opponent.

The “Cryuff turn” soon became a part of his weekly repertoire, turning away expertly from helpless defenders.

The Englishman was more than just flair, though. He had incredible stamina and pace and his traits made him one of the most important Liverpool players in Jurgen Klopp’s early Gegenpressing reign. He charged down opposition players endlessly and with real intent, often kick-starting the clockwork press that was a huge part of the way Liverpool played – and still does to a lesser extent today.

On his day, the creative midfielder was truly a delight to watch – plucking out high balls from the sky with a deft touch, serving piroulettes to defenders for breakfast and pressing the bejesus out of opponents.

It is fair to say that this mercurial talent still had a really good career at Anfield (and still can go on to greater heights this season), but he might just well be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino – had he been injury free.

Best moment: A few stands out - we simply can’t get enough of his Cruyff Turns, that goal against Manchester United and captaining the young Liverpool side against Everton in the FA Cup.

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