Liverpool’s Classic XI

Every club has its heroes. But equally, there are players who you might have forgotten about. These are the players that we love at Forgot About Him, and this feature is dedicated to them. Liverpool fans, cover your eyes.

Historically one of English football’s most successful clubs, with no less than 58 trophies to their name, Liverpool have boasted the likes of Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres amongst their ranks in their Premier League years. However, whilst the aforementioned quartet, along with dozens of other glittering stars, have shone to ensure the Reds have finished in the top 6 in all but three of their 19 seasons in the Premier League, the club are somewhat renowned for purchasing, for use of a better word, flops. It is these flops we at Forgot About Him are interested in, and it is these flops, along with some players who might have simply slipped from memory, who make up Liverpool’s classic XI.

Frenchman Bernard Diomede only made two Premier League appearances in three years on Merseyside. Photo: nicogenin via Flickr

GK: Patrice Luzi

22-year-old Luzi arrived at Anfield in 2002 with just two senior appearances under his belt. Initially fourth in the pecking order behind Chris Kirkland, Pegguy Arphexad and first-choice ‘keeper, Jerzy Dudek, the former Monaco and AC Ajaccio stopper spent some time warming the bench for the Reds, but only ever made one appearance for them, when he replaced the injured Dudek after 77 minutes, in a 1-0 win away to Chelsea in 2004. Just when it looked as though Luzi would be finally given his chance in the first-team, Gerard Houllier brought in veteran Southampton ‘keeper Paul Jones on a short-term loan, with the Welshman slotting straight in between the sticks for Liverpool’s next match. After being released by the Reds at the end of the 2004/05 season, Luzi went on to play in Belgium and his native France. Now 31, he is without a club after leaving Stade Rennais last year.

RB: Veggard Heggem

After making his way into Norway’s 1998 World Cup squad, but having to watch the entire tournament from the bench, Liverpool joint-managers Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier shelled out £3.5million for right winger-cum-full back, Heggem. Two years earlier, he had scored the winning goal for boyhood club Rosenborg in a 2-1 win over Italian giants AC Milan, to ensure the Norwegian club’s passage into the quarter-finals. Heggem’s first two years at Anfield were impressive, as he became the club’s first-choice right back. However, a series of injuries over the next three years severely limited his appearances. After two seasons spent on the sidelines, his contract ended in 2003 and, despite being just 28, his retirement from football soon followed. Upon finishing his career, he is now the owner and manager of a Salmon fishing business, based in his native Norway.

CB: Phil Babb

After impressing at centre half for the Republic of Ireland at the 1994 World Cup, Babb became the most expensive defender in Britain when he signed for Liverpool for £3.6million in September that year. comment that his “strengths were his speed, man-marking skills and tackling” but that his “distribution of the ball, positional sense and sometimes alarming carelessness let him down”. Despite notching up over 150 appearances for the Reds, it’s a shame that the Lambeth-born defender will always be remembered for this nutcracker. Babb left Anfield in 2000 to sign for Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, in what was considered a bizarre move at the time. Two seasons later, he returned to England to spend a couple of years at Sunderland, before retiring, aged 34, in 2004.

CB: Bjorn Tore Kvarme

Like Heggem, Kvarme arrived at Anfield from Norwegian side Rosenborg. In six seasons at the Trondheim-based club, he won the Tippeligaen five times, prompting Liverpool to snap him up in 1997 on a Bosman transfer. It was reported that the Reds’ Norwegian full back, Stig Inge Bjornebye, was influential in bringing his no-nonsense, tough-tackling compatriot to Anfield. The aforementioned traits made Kvarme a popular figure with Liverpool fans, but that popularity soon wavered, after one too many mistakes began to show the the chinks in his armour. After over 50 appearances in two-and-a-half years on Merseyside, Kvarme left for French side Saint Etienne in 1999, where he became club captain. Spells at Real Sociedad and Bastia followed, before he returned to home-town club Rosenborg in 2005, retiring in 2008, aged 36.

LB: Gregory Vignal

After coming through the youth ranks at home-town club Montpellier, Vignal was snapped up by Liverpool at the tender age of 19 for £500,000. He made a handful of appearances in the 2000/01 season, but found himself vying for the left back berth at Anfield against newly-signed Norwegian full back, John Arne Riise, who made 55 appearances in all competitions in his debut season – evidently limiting Vignal’s chances. Loan spells at Bastia, Rennes, Espanyol and Rangers followed over the next three seasons, with the Frenchman barely appearing in a Liverpool shirt again. After his contract on Merseyside expired, Vignal stayed in England for another season with Portsmouth, before returning to France to play for Lens. English fans will remember him most recently at Birmingham City where he spent the 2009-10 season, but after leaving the Blues for Atromitos of Greece, he is now, as of December 2010, a free agent, and still only 30.

RM: Antonio Nunez

After being spotted playing for Las Rozas, in the fourth tier of Spanish football, Nunez was recruited by Real Madrid in 2001. Carlos Queiroz gave Nunez his first tastes of first team action at the Bernabeu in the 2003-04 season – but it was not a successful campaign for Los Merengues as they finished a disappointing fourth in La Liga. With Real looking to draft in players to improve their squad for the following season, Liverpool’s Michael Owen headed to Spain, with Nunez travelling in the opposite direction. Despite having what was, at best, a mediocre season at Anfield, Nunez surprisingly walked away with a Champions League winners medal – and a goal in the League Cup final, which was his only one whilst on Merseyside. Now 32, he plays in Cyprus with Apollon Limassol.

CM: Igor Biscan

Then a young midfielder with Dinamo Zagreb, Biscan was beginning to make a name for himself in the late 1990s with mature performances at the highest level of European competition. Barcelona and Juventus were among the admirers of Biscan but it was Houllier and Liverpool who won the race to sign him – for a hefty £5.5million, which Houllier himself called a ‘double risk’. Biscan though spent five years at Anfield, and is fondly remembered by Liverpool fans, as he won five trophies and made over 100 appearances. He spent two years in Greece with Panathinaikos upon leaving England in 2005 and is now back with Dinamo Zagreb as club captain.

CM: Bruno Cheyrou

Cheyrou’s career was doomed from the moment he was dubbed ‘the new Zidane’ by Gerard Houllier upon his arrival on Merseyside in 2002. A £4.5million signing from Lille, he showed little in the handful of appearances he made in his four years at Anfield to suggest he was even fit to clean Zizou’s boots – bar one impressive performance in the FA Cup against Newcastle in 2004. New boss Rafael Benitez though wanted to ship Cheyrou out when he arrived at the club, and the Frenchman promptly joined Marseille and then Bordeaux on season-long loans, before Rennes took him on on permanent terms. Via Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus, Cheyrou, now 33, is at mid-table Ligue 2 side Nantes.

LM: Bernard Diomede

A pacey left winger, Diomede was a product of the successful Auxerre youth system of the 1990s. After signing pro terms in 1992, he went on to play almost 200 matches for the Burgundy club, winning a league and cup double in 1996. Two years later he added the World Cup to the trophy cabinet as France won on home turf. Gerard Houllier put up £3million for Diomede’s services at the turn of the century but he couldn’t settle on Merseyside and made only two league appearances – despite being denied a goal on his debut against Sunderland. French sides Ajaccio, Creteil and Clermont attempted to revive Diomede’s career but in 2008, the then-33-year-old admitted defeat and hung up his boots.

ST: Sean Dundee

Having become a vital part of Karlsruhe’s impressive Bundesliga form in the mid-1990s, scoring 33 times between 1996 and 1998, South African-born Dundee felt it necessary to change his nationality to German, in anticipation of a national team call-up. It turns out he needn’t have bothered. Liverpool put up £2million for Dundee in 1998 with a view to using him as cover for Robbie Fowler, who had picked up a knee ligament injury. After making only three substitute appearances though, Dundee’s qualities were not exactly utilised by the Reds, and he returned to Germany after one season, never proving his assertion that he was ‘faster than Michael Owen’. He never regained his scintillating form of the 1990s and was reduced to being the subject of impromptu interviews on beaches of wilderness. He has returned to South Africa where he is in the twilight of his career with AmaZulu.

ST: Erik Meijer

Meijer was about to celebrate his 30th birthday by the time Gerard Houllier decided to bring in the Dutch striker from Leverkusen, where he had formed an effective partnership with legendary German striker Ulf Kirsten. In truth, Meijer’s career up until that point resonates with that of a journeyman, as he switched between a host of Dutch clubs in the early 1990s – Fortuna Sittard, FC Eindhoven, MVV and PSV amongst them. Unable to break into the first team on a regular basis, he made the majority of his 23 league appearances for Liverpool from the bench. Nevertheless Liverpool fans warmed to Meijer, who also developed a strong attachment to the club. Meijer allegedly mingled with Reds fans prior to the 2001 UEFA Cup final, singing Reds songs and drinking. He joined Hamburg after Liverpool but ended his career with Aachen, where he again enjoys cult hero status after helping the club to the Bundesliga in 2005. He is currently director of sport at the club.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: