Thursday, March 1, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop- NO 69: Jari Litmanen

Breaking into the top 70 of our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' countdown is the mercurial Finn Jari Litmanen.
Four years after our ground-breaking '100 Days That Shook The Kop', we are delighted to invite you to enjoy our new '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series – the definitive countdown of the 100 players who have made the biggest impact at Liverpool.

Over 110,000 supporters have all nominated their own personal Top 10 players in order of impact made and now the definitive top 100 countdown is underway.

Every player who has made the top 100 – and there are some surprises in there - will be honoured on this website via the e-Season ticket console with a specially produced video clip, including archive footage and exclusive interviews.

Since 1892 hundreds of players have represented this club but everyone has their own particular favourites so don't expect this list to be based solely on talent. The greatness of a player can be measured in many ways – obviously, his ability on the pitch is the most important, but 100 PWSTK is much more than that. It's about the impact the individuals chosen have had on this club, be it for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was because of their unique rapport with the crowd, a specific incident that has never been forgotten or anything else that has left a lasting impression.

Name: Jari Litmanen

Years at Liverpool: 2001 to 2002
Position: Forward

Date-of-birth: 20/2/1971
Birthplace: Lhati, Finland

Signed from: Barcelona (January 2001)

Games: 43
Goals: 9

Honours: none

The most famous Finnish footballer of all-time joined Liverpool from Barcelona amid much excitement in January 2001 but it's fair to say that his Anfield career did not fulfil the hype. However, the boyhood Reds fan established himself as a firm favourite of the Kop during his brief stay on Merseyside. A Champions League winner with Ajax, Litmanen's name was linked with a move to Anfield long before it eventually happened. His burning desire to one day pull on the famous Red shirt was no secret but after leaving Ajax Barcelona was to be his next port of call. An unhappy spell in Catalonia followed though and in January 2001 he realised a dream when he signed for Gerard Houllier's team on a free transfer. At the time Houllier hailed the new arrival as "one of the most exciting signings Liverpool have ever made" and Litmanen appeared to be a Reds legend in the making. An exciting forward player who was most effective in a deep lying role, he was seen by the fans as a player in the mould of Kenny Dalglish and a stunning debut performance away to Aston Villa, plus an outstanding display in the Worthington Cup semi-final win over Crystal Palace left Liverpudlians drooling over their new import. Unfortunately, injury ruled him out of the exciting climax to the 2000/01 campaign and he missed all three finals as an unprecedented cup treble was won. Houllier's mysterious reluctance to use Litmanen the following season, when the Finn was selected only sparingly, was to be a source of much frustration to many supporters but when called upon he did serve up some memorable moments – netting a fantastic match-winning goal in 1-0 home win over Tottenham and playing a starring role in the famous Champions League success over AS Roma on the occasion of Houllier's return to the dug-out after his life-saving heart operation. He also came off the bench to score an amazing individual goal in the Champions League quarter-final with Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Germany but that was to be his last notable contribution to the Liverpool cause and shortly before the transfer deadline in August 2002 he returned to Ajax. Despite his undoubted skill and creativity many supporters will say he was underused at Liverpool and Litmanen's career at Anfield will go down as a case of what might have been.

Sold to: Ajax (August 2002)

Claim to fame: Setting Liverpool on their way to a famous victory against AS Roma in the Champions League with a coolly taken first half penalty

Did you know? Litmanen's boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish

Where is he now? Playing for Swedish club Malmo

Didi Hamann on Jari Litmanen: "I've never seen a player with such a good eye for the final forward next to him or his team-mates. He never missed a pass, his vision was just unbelievable. He wasn't the quickest when he came to us but his performance on his debut at Aston Villa was one of the best I've ever seen in a Liverpool shirt."

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