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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Gerrard named Reds captain
Houllier admires Gerrard's leadership qualities
Steven Gerrard has been appointed Liverpool captain after boss Gerard Houllier took the armband off Sami Hyypia in a shock move.

Houllier hinted that the captaincy was affecting defender Hyypia's game and wanted Gerrard to lead Liverpool into the future.

Gerrard will officially captain Liverpool for the first time in the Uefa Cup clash with Olimpija Ljubljana at Anfield on Wednesday.

Houllier said: "Stevie will lead the team against Ljubliana and in the future.

"I have thought long and hard about this. This is not something which should be seen as against Sami. He has been a good captain for us. He has lifted six trophies as captain.

"But I have considered a number of issues. Firstly, I think Stevie has certain leadership qualities which I spotted very early in his career.

"When he was young, all he needed was time to mature. Now he is 23 and he is ready. There has been a maturing in his game and his personality."

Houllier admitted the captaincy may have been starting to weigh on Hyypia's shoulders after the defender suffered a loss of form this season.

He said: "The second thing is I think this decision will help Sami's game too. I think he was ready to take on too much responsibility at times.

"Obviously I spoke to Sami and his response was typically first-class. He respected the decision.

"There was no bitterness or resentment and I know Sami will recognise this is a decision I've taken for the team.

"I have three leaders in Stevie, Sami and Michael Owen, who are all inspirational in their own way."

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