in

Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia takes Mail Sport deep into the Arctic circle on a polar expedition as he reminisces about his glittering Anfield profession, his origins in Finland and struggles as a supervisor

Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia takes Mail Sport deep into the Arctic circle on a polar expedition as he reminisces about his glittering Anfield profession, his origins in Finland and struggles as a supervisor
Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia takes Mail Sport deep into the Arctic circle on a polar expedition as he reminisces about his glittering Anfield profession, his origins in Finland and struggles as a supervisor


Contemporary pine timber wrapped in white blankets of snow, glistening below the hazy Arctic mild. The solar barely seems in Lapland at the moment of 12 months however technicolour Polar clouds float overhead, filling the sky like Mom of Pearl pillows. The one sound is occasional hen music. Nonetheless and silent like a postcard from a winter wonderland.

Out of the blue a flash of purple roars by, rumbling just like the engine of a Method One automotive, jolting the surroundings again into life. It’s Sami Hyypia, face hidden behind a balaclava and a helmet, full throttle on his snowmobile. Head to toe within the color of Liverpool’s house package, after all.

We journey in convoy, accelerating from nought to 60kph in what seems like no time in any respect, weaving via the wilderness of northern Finland. Quick sufficient to go away a stream of icy powder that sneaks into each hole in your helmet to remind you the temperature has dropped to -5°C.

He leads us via hidden tracks, trails of countless magnificence, cautious that in case you veer off target you sink into a number of toes of contemporary snow. Often he speeds off into the space. It’s paying homage to his Liverpool crew within the 2000s, when Michael Owen would depart defenders chasing his shadow.

Round 20km into the journey, we pull over to soak up the view. ‘I find it irresistible out right here,’ says the previous Liverpool captain, now settled again in his house nation. ‘You possibly can go for days on the snowmobile. A whole bunch of kilometres, one city to the following.

Mail Sport went deep into the Arctic circle to accompany the Liverpool legend on a polar expedition

The 50-year-old enjoys riding his snowmobile in the winter, while he does Motorcross biking in the summer

The 50-year-old enjoys using his snowmobile within the winter, whereas he does Motorcross biking in the summertime

Hyypia made over 300 appearances for the Reds in a decade-long stay that yielded six major trophies including the Champions League

Hyypia remodeled 300 appearances for the Reds in a decade-long keep that yielded six main trophies together with the Champions League

‘It’s a passion for me. In the summertime I do Motocross biking. I went to Donington racetrack once I lived in England, then began to compete once I completed enjoying. Within the winter, perhaps three months a 12 months, I keep up right here. I like cross-country snowboarding, too. I did a 70km race right here final 12 months. I prefer to problem myself.’

Icicles kind beneath the engine as he speaks. ‘It’s best to come out right here when it’s minus 30! I like this type of chilly. The air is dry. It’s not just like the chilly in Liverpool the place your garments get moist and it goes deep into you.

‘I grew up within the south and we used to get snow on a regular basis, however the local weather has modified with world warming so that you’re by no means positive now. In school, generally we might practice for soccer outdoors, completely icy, in half a metre of snow. It offers you one thing, mentally… guts.’

These guts made Hyypia an Anfield legend, making 464 appearances and captaining the membership to the treble of UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup in 2001. He’s simply as tall and slender as in these days enjoying centre-back in entrance of the Kop, protecting match with ice hockey and cross-country snowboarding.

‘The dressing-room banter is the factor I miss however I’ve it once I play ice hockey. I’m often a centre ahead now!’

Simply above the Arctic Circle, we’re a number of hours away from the Russian border. Hyypia reminisces about his nationwide service within the Finnish army after college, briefly steering the topic in the direction of politics. ‘We’re nonetheless fairly calm. I don’t suppose the risk is there, but it surely was in all probability the correct time for Finland to affix NATO this 12 months. With the man within the east, you don’t know what he’s doing.’

We begin up the engines and journey deeper into the woods. ‘Let’s preserve going. We’ve got a few hours earlier than it will get darkish.’ He leads us on a 120km path, barely seeing a soul till we pull up at a roadside restaurant. There’s a thick-coated black canine sitting outdoors the doorway and a lone trucker who stopped off to order the sauteed reindeer. One of many nation’s nationwide dishes.

Hyypia removes his headwear and orders a espresso to heat up. The bleached blond hair isn’t any extra. These days when he marshalled the defence at Anfield along with his peroxide associate Stephane Henchoz are previously. His youngest son was born within the Wirral and is now 17 years previous. Life has moved on.

Now 50, Hyypia stays a sporting icon in his house nation. Fame was by no means one thing he craved, he was a boy from a rural papermill village who merely wished to play soccer. But it surely was a by-product of his success in Liverpool, the place his £2.5million switch price in 1999 from Willem II was one of many shrewdest items of enterprise within the membership’s historical past.

‘Once I got here to Liverpool, nobody actually knew me. It was like a dream come true. I by no means wished to be a identified individual, I wished to stay my life like every human being, however I perceive that comes with the career. After my first season we went out after an occasion in London and the primary pub I stepped into somebody stated, “Whey, it’s Sami,” and I used to be considering, “What’s going on?” 

Someway it was a burden but it surely confirmed that I used to be doing one thing proper. That was one thing I perhaps didn’t need however I understood it was there. Now I’ve to simply stay with it. When you could have your helmet on no one actually recognises you. And now I don’t have the blond hair. I finished dyeing it perhaps 10 years in the past. It’s a bit darker now. That’s my masks.’

Hyypia remains a sporting icon in his home country. Fame was never something he craved, having come from a rural papermill village

Hyypia stays a sporting icon in his house nation. Fame was by no means one thing he craved, having come from a rural papermill village

Former centre back Hyypia with Mail Sport's Nik Simon (right) and Kevin Quigley (left)

Former centre again Hyypia with Mail Sport’s Nik Simon (proper) and Kevin Quigley (left) 

As darkness begins to fall, Hyypia suggests it will be smart to move again in the direction of city. Official sundown is 12.31pm — quarter-hour after dawn — however there are a few twilight hours both facet. With full beams on the snowmobile, we whizz via 50km of trails again to Levi, a small snowboarding resort. We move a bunch of vacationers being pulled alongside on a snow safari. ‘We have fun Christmas on the twenty fourth right here. Santa lives right here so he comes earlier. We’ve got an enormous piece of ham with carrot and candy potato dishes.

‘At Liverpool, after we performed on Boxing Day, we usually spent the twenty fifth in a lodge. The English gamers had been sad however I used to be OK as a result of I’d have fun with my kin the night time earlier than. We’d have some turkey within the lodge however at the moment the lodge meals wasn’t the best. The principle factor was about getting vitality inside you so it didn’t matter what it tasted like. It didn’t style like something.’

And his Secret Santa current on the membership? ‘The papers had been all the time writing, “How can a centre-back dye his hair?” I received some bleach!’

Again within the city, Hyypia refuels his Lynx snowmobile earlier than popping house for a sauna. He reserves a desk at an area bar the place the supervisor, his pal, a Manchester United fan, greets him with a few remarks in Finnish about final Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Anfield.

‘I watched the sport in right here,’ says Hyypia, ordering a pint of lager. ‘The sport is faster than it was in my time. I don’t know the way nicely I’d address the tempo now. I like to look at Virgil van Dijk. He’s the most effective, he has every thing. If I used to be as fast as him then I’d have been the most effective on this planet, however I wasn’t.

‘I don’t suppose anyone needs to be a centre-back anymore. In my day there have been nonetheless centre-backs who couldn’t play soccer. They had been huge and powerful however they couldn’t play soccer. Now the most effective groups play from the again and it’s essential that your centre-back can move the ball. Goalkeeper is similar. I keep in mind when the rule modified that you just couldn’t move again, I used to be enjoying in Finland with a keeper who was actually struggling. These days some keepers are higher than the outfield gamers.’

So who was the hardest participant Hyypia ever marked? ‘Thierry Henry had every thing. His tempo would give me issues. I performed in opposition to the Brazilian Ronaldo in his prime. He was 19, enjoying for PSV Eindhoven and we performed in opposition to him with my Finnish crew, MyPa, within the UEFA Cup. We drew 1-1 within the first leg in Finland, however misplaced the second leg 7-1 and he scored 4 objectives! He was so good. His tempo, how rapidly he turned. He was robust like a bull.’

Over dinner, Arctic salmon soup and Lappish cheese, Hyypia lets out a toothy grin as he orders the native aperitifs. ‘You possibly can’t come to Finland and never strive Jalo,’ he says, laughing at our faces because the robust brandy hits the again of our throats.

Virgil Van Dijk was often compared to the Finn and the Dutchman followed in his footsteps by becoming only the second foreign player to captain the Reds

Virgil Van Dijk was usually in comparison with the Finn and the Dutchman adopted in his footsteps by turning into solely the second international participant to captain the Reds

Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry tormented Hyypia and his Liverpool teammates for several seasons

Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry tormented Hyypia and his Liverpool teammates for a number of seasons

He hardly ever does interviews but it surely stirs recollections, just like the night time a crew dinner in Liverpool was interrupted by gunshots. ‘That was fairly scary. Banging and screaming. The shootings had been concerning the bouncer after any person was faraway from the restaurant. There have been eight or 9 of us across the desk and we jumped behind the wall. After we got here out Christian Ziege was nonetheless sitting on the desk. He hadn’t moved in any respect. He was fairly cool!’

To at the present time, Hyypia is one among solely 5 gamers to spend a decade at Anfield throughout the Premier League period, alongside Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson. He names Gerrard as the most effective he ever performed alongside. ‘I keep in mind my first coaching session with Stevie, pre-season of 1999-2000. He regarded like a 15-year-old child however he was so good. How he kicked the ball, the tempo, he was robust. When he went to deal with he actually went laborious.

‘I nonetheless keep in mind the day when Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson advised me that the captaincy was going from me to Stevie. We had been going via a tricky interval and so they advised me after one coaching session. So I attempted to search out Stevie however he had already gone. The subsequent morning I noticed his automotive there however I couldn’t discover him wherever. I didn’t know if he was hiding from me as a result of he thought I used to be p****d off.

‘I noticed him tying his laces and I feel he turned his head the opposite means, however I stated, “Congratulations, you’ve actually earned it, in case you need assistance I’ll all the time be there”. He may calm down and take a breath. That was in 2003. It was nice to see how he developed… he may have performed any place.’

The dialog strikes onto administration. Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fernando Torres are amongst Hyypia’s Liverpool team-mates who ultimately joined him within the teaching world. ‘There was intelligence in our crew,’ he says. ‘We had lots of leaders. If the captain or the vice-captain had a nasty day then another person would raise up the spirit. Our crew that received the 2005 Champions League had lots of good characters. Milan had an unimaginable roster within the ultimate and you could possibly suppose, “How may we beat them?” however our power was that we had been tight as a bunch with lots of leaders.’

Hyypia has had spells in management with Bayer Leverkusen, Brighton and Zurich but he is yet to enjoy the same success that he had as a player

Hyypia has had spells in administration with Bayer Leverkusen, Brighton and Zurich however he’s but to get pleasure from the identical success that he had as a participant 

Hyypia went on to handle Bayer Leverkusen, Brighton and Zurich. His diligence and organisation shines via in the way in which he conducts himself, however he’s but to get pleasure from the identical managerial success that he had as a participant.

‘Administration pursuits me however now I do know which course the enterprise goes, I don’t know if I wish to be concerned. There’s no persistence anymore. If you go someplace, you need to win immediately. 

Now they’re kicking out managers after three months and that’s ridiculous. I imagine in one thing long term. Once I see managers age 10 years in a single 12 months, I don’t wish to do this. The strain as a supervisor was completely totally different. If any person’s booing if you lose that’s completely high-quality. 

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It is All Kicking Off is an thrilling new podcast from Mail Sport that guarantees a unique tackle Premier League soccer, with a present each Monday and Thursday this season.

It’s accessible on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

However as a supervisor, if you lose, that nastiness or criticism is in the direction of one man. It made me really feel uncomfortable. Someway I wasn’t robust sufficient. I used to be too good however I’ll by no means be an a**gap.

‘I wouldn’t change any selections I made. Taking a job, I’d be extra demanding to guard myself. In nearly each membership I labored for I had little or nothing to say about transfers and that made it very tough. In the intervening time I don’t work, I simply wish to get pleasure from life.’

Nowadays he will get his kicks in new locations, just like the spectacular environment of Nordic nature. The temperature has dropped to -10°C so he orders a Minttu-kaakao — scorching chocolate with mint liquor — earlier than heading into the chilly. The northern lights have appeared, magnificent waves of inexperienced, dancing within the night time sky. Why would he wish to be wherever else?

Written by bourbiza mohamed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

JOE BERNSTEIN: Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta are the BEST of enemies after two of essentially the most animated managers clashed at Anfield… neither man was on their finest behaviour however nonetheless shared a hug on the closing whistle

JOE BERNSTEIN: Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta are the BEST of enemies after two of essentially the most animated managers clashed at Anfield… neither man was on their finest behaviour however nonetheless shared a hug on the closing whistle

Deontay Wilder shuts down discuss of retirement following loss to Joshua Parker as he tells followers, ‘this isn’t the tip’ amid rumors of mega-fight with Anthony Joshua… regardless of hinting he might step away from boxing

Deontay Wilder shuts down discuss of retirement following loss to Joshua Parker as he tells followers, ‘this isn’t the tip’ amid rumors of mega-fight with Anthony Joshua… regardless of hinting he might step away from boxing