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Saturday, 6 April, 2002, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Sami's so unlucky
BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty looks at football's big issues
BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty investigates the week's topical issues.

Liverpool have spent 12m on a state-of-the-art academy and put a worldwide scouting network in place - but a cameraman with time to spare may have solved their biggest problem.

The man behind the lens was working at Anfield three summers ago when he heard dark tales of Liverpool's fruitless search for a central defender to beef up a rearguard that was almost the equivalent of an open goal.

He took a quick trip up to the office of then executive vice-chairman Peter Robinson and whispered a tip-off that started a new chapter in Liverpool's success story.

The part-time scout told Robinson that the answer to Liverpool's Phil Babb and Neil Ruddock-induced nightmares came in the shape of a little-known Finn playing in the Dutch League with Willem II.

Sami Hyypia was spotted by a cameraman
The name was Sami Hyypia - the rest may well be history.

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier and his team followed up the advice and Hyypia rose almost without trace to the top of a transfer wanted list.

The deal was done and three years later Hyypia has put his name alongside Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson in the pantheon of great Liverpool defenders.

Hyypia's display against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League was perfection - preventing the Germans managing a shot on target and scoring the winner himself.

So it will be a bitter disappointment to Liverpool that Hyypia has failed to make the short list for the PFA Player of the Year - despite high-profile backing from England captain David Beckham.

Hyypia deserved to break the closed shop that has seen defenders frozen out of this particular award since Paul McGrath won in 1993.

Maybe it was the timing of the vote. Maybe it was because Hyypia is a defender. Maybe it was the currently ludicrous anti-Liverpool feeling within football, led by men who should know better such as Franz Beckenbauer.

Whatever the reason, it is a glaring ommission - but all the evidence suggests Hyypia may have more than ample consolation in the shape of silverware at season's end.


Roy Keane has made it his business to win trophies as opposed to friends in a turbulent career.

It is difficult to imagine one Alf-Inge Haaland shedding a tear as Keane contemplates the grim possibility of missing a second Champions League Cup final.

And a few others who have been on the end of Keane's sharp tongue and sharp studs may join in.

Roy Keane deserves great sympathy
But it is a hard heart who would not feel sympathy for Keane if his Manchester United team-mates negotiate their way to Hampden Park next month and he misses out.

The real Keane - the one that should be appreciated - is the man who has been one of this country's finest midfield players of the last 25 years.

And the Keane whose first thoughts were for his colleagues rather than his own ill-fortune when a booking ruled him out of the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.


New Leicester City boss Micky Adams has vowed to remove the losers from his dressing room.

After this season's shoddy performances, this should be the clear-out to end them all.

Links to more Football stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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