Liverpool’s All-Time XI to Have Played Fewer than 100 Games for the Club
Liverpool has played host to some absolute stellar names in the game down the years. However, we have also had a fair few servants who have fallen just shy of all time greatness, but have made lasting contributions all the same.
Here’s a little of nod of appreciation to some of these former servants, who donned the shirt fewer than 100 times but left us wandering what might have been, had fortune turned out differently for them.
GK: Brad Friedel: 31 appearances
The towering American was initially brought in to provide competition for the stalling form of David James in 1997. Despite completing just one full season at Liverpool, Friedel did enough in that time to suggest perhaps we may have been a little hasty in shipping him off so soon.
The USA international was an agile man, despite his big frame and often looked more decisive than David James; although that was not too difficult a task. A handful of blunders and a subsequent career in mid-table hinted that he was unlikely to ever be a Liverpool great; but he was a top pro and a decent ‘keeper nonetheless.
RB: Alvaro Arbeloa – 98 appearances
Spanish right-back Alvaro Arbeloa would go on to enjoy two and a half seasons as one of the club’s most reliable figures in defence.
Some fans grumbled about a lack of attacking ability, but it’s hard to fault the Spaniard’s defensive strengths. A composed, deceptively strong figure, and an excellent positional sense; he was rarely flustered in a red shirt. Perhaps his finest hour came at the Camp Nou in 2007, where, placed on the left side of our back four, he was able to keep Lionel Messi quiet as the Red’s secured a famous victory. An excellent defender in a solid era; Arbeloa was sorely missed after his departure to Real Madrid in 2009.
CB: Markus Babbel – 73 appearances
A hero of the 2000/01 season; Markus Babbel was a real Ford Mustang at the back for Liverpool. A Germany International, and former stalwart of Bayern Munich, Babbel was head and shoulders above anyone defensive recruit of the proceeding ten years, with only Sami Hyppia his superior.
An intelligent, tough tackling dynamo in the back four; the German cut an energetic, dominant figure. His goal scoring contribution was pretty tidy as well, notching six goals for the Reds including one on the UEFA Cup final against Alaves. He was cut down by the cruel, debilitating Guillain-Barre syndrome and was never quite able to recover. He is fondly remembered by all, who were lucky enough to see him in his prime.
CB: Mamadou Sakho – 80 appearances
Ah Mamadou Sakho! Has there ever been a more enigmatic defender to represent the club? When he was fit and firing, Sakho proved he was up there as the best defender at the club, it was though those fitness problems, as well as some disciplinary issues behind the scenes, that brought down his Red’s career.
Nonetheless, Sahko was loved by the fans, who adored his eccentric personality and fondness for the supporters. Oh and he was a pretty good defender to boot! The France international was quick, solid in the air and a physically imposing presence at the back. A powerful header against Dortmund, in the Europa League epic was undoubtedly a highlight, before Klopp ruthlessly dispatched of his troublesome defender to Crystal palace a few months later.
LB: Jim Beglin – 90 appearances
The Irishman was Bob Paisely’s final signing as Liverpool manager in 1983, and he could so easily have enjoyed the glory of his peers had injury not curtailed his career.
Beglin was a talented full back, good on the ball and confident going forward; he was eased in to the fray by Joe Fagan before becoming first choice under Dalglish. His career was right on track as he played an vital role at left back, for league and cup double of 1986. However a horror tackle by Gary Stevens in 1987 saw the Republic of Ireland international suffer a severe leg break. Bob Paisley admitted afterwards that he had never seen such a bad fracture. Sadly Beglin’s fortunes worsened when a knee injury effectively finished his career at Anfield in 1989.
RM: Nick Barmby – 57 appearances – 8 goals
Okay so Barmby get’s bonus points for that epic goal and subsequent knee slide against The Ev back in 2000.
The winger had moved to the proper side of Stanley Park the previous summer and became a key cog in Liverpool’s treble winning side. He also annoyed a lot of Blues in the process!
A speedy wide man, blessed with an excellent first touch and an aggressive direct approach; Barmby was a real shrewd bit of business by Gerard Houllier. The England international had been a bright talent for a while in the Premier League, and proved a real asset for a prize winning Liverpool side.
CM: Gary Mac – 87 appearances – 9 goals
Has there been a more wonderfully romantic tale in the club’s history than Gary McAllister’s Bosman signing back in 2000? The veteran Scot was 35-years old when he penned a contract for the Reds. He would go on to forge his own epic history in a red shirt.
McAllister cut a classy figure on the pitch, spraying passes with all the confidence and range of Gerrard or Redknapp, whilst also being a dab hand at Penalties and free kicks. Take your pick from epic moments, including stoppage time Merseyside Derby winners and a steely penalty dispatched at the Kop end against Barcelona. Legend in every sense of the word!
CM: Momo Sissoko – 87 appearances – 1 goal
At Liverpool we’ve been blessed with some quality defensive midfielders; Momo Sissoko was no exception. The Mali International cut an athletic figure and displayed near boundless energy on the pitch. The Kop instantaneously took to his stoic presence and lung busting performances. He seemed to cover every blade of grass and was heroic in his thunderous tackles; Momo was undoubtedly a real natural to the physicality of the English game.
Cruel injuries and the arrival of a certain Javier Mascherano curtailed Sissoko’s time at the club, which was a real shame and a ruthless reminder of life at a top club.
LM: David Thompson – 56 appearances – 5 goals
David Thompson burst on to the scene for Liverpool’s entertainers in the mid 1990s. The local lad looked a great fit in that talented side and was a bona fide crowd pleaser with excellent feet and an eye for goal. A lovely strike at home to Palace in ’98, finishing off a cheeky one-two with Steve McManaman, showed his natural ability and boundless potential, as did a wonderful solo goal against Sheffield Wednesday.
A bright future seemed on the cards but he was blighted by injuries and some discipline issues which were never going to win over Gerard Houllier. He was shipped off to Coventry with his boyhood club on the cusp of transformation in to a top European side.
FW: Jari Litmanen 43 Appearances – 9 goals
There are sound footballers, and then there is Jari Litmanen! Or at least that’s what I thought when I first saw the silky Finn live under the lights at Anfield in 2001. Litmanen was a technical class above anyone we’d signed for nearly a decade. Like all top players, his wonderful brain gave him an extra couple of seconds and his footwork and first touch were dazzling.
Had we signed him a year a two earlier, he may not have featured on this list. Sadly, a succession of injuries calcified a top player and we only saw fleeting glimpses of his greatness. A screamer against Spurs and a real bit of composure away at Bayer Leverkusen are particular highlights of the Litmanen’s all too brief spell at Liverpool.
FW: Craig Bellamy: 73 appearances – 18 goals
Every top team needs a good nutter! We had Mr Bellamy in ours for two glorious and memorable spells. The Welshman was a great persona on the pitch, full of character, vim and determination. Despite an infamous, and let’s be honest, outright comical incident in Spain involving ale, a golf club and John Arne Riise; we seldom saw the chronic troublemaker that some had made him out to be.
Blessed with a burst of place and a lovely bit of skill, Bellamy was the kind of player who always gave you hope on the pitch. His heroic performance against Manchester City at Anfield in the 2012 EFL Cup semi-final was genuinely phenomenal and symptomatic of the Welshman’s grisly desire to win. A true cult hero who brought a smile to your face, Klopp would have loved him!