In modern play, it takes a special player to be loved by fans on and off the pitch. But Daniel Agger certainly managed to do it at Liverpool.
The Danish center-back was a relatively unknown prospect when he arrived in January 2006, but that would change soon. Agger helped his side win the FA Cup and Community Shield in their first year on Merseyside, and it didn’t take long for him to win the hearts of those in the stands.
At Â£ 6million from Brondby, he was in fact the most expensive defender in Liverpool history so far. While that figure is now overshadowed by Virgil Van Dijk’s signing for Â£ 75million, it also shows how well Rafael Benitez valued Agger.
Eight and a half years and 232 appearances later, there was no doubt that Benitez was right in his assessment. Agger’s time in Merseyside may have been hampered by injury issues but his passion not only for football in general but for Liverpool as a club and city created an incredible bond between player and fan.
While his Liverpool career ultimately failed, he was a brilliant spark in a difficult time for the Reds, and for that reason that bond will never be broken.
The Dane was not built from the mold of pragmatic, hard-hitting defenders, but it was a pleasure to watch his craft. And although he didn’t have a lot of pace, his ability to read the game was unmatched.
Meanwhile, his ability to come out of defense and pick a pass must have been a joy to his attacking teammates. His cultivated left foot was often the start of Liverpool’s attacks. And 14 goals in his time for the Reds proved he was more than capable of finishing them, too.
They weren’t all heads in the six-yard box, either. Indeed, his first goal at Liverpool saw him cross the center line to unleash a fierce, deflected strike from all 35 yards that left Roy Carroll rooted.
– Red forever (@ForeverRedUK) October 11, 2018
With fans now fully aware of what he had in his locker, screams of ‘hoooooot’ could be heard around Anfield whenever Agger received the ball anywhere within 50 yards of the opposing goal. .
And the Kop were to see almost a carbon copy of that strike in April 2009 against Blackburn, a goal Agger dedicated to the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. He was a player who always understood what it meant to play for the club.
Perhaps Agger’s most memorable performance in a red jersey came in the Champions League semi-final second leg of 2007.
A 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in the first leg meant Liverpool had little margin for error in the second leg, and with Agger considered to be at fault for Chelsea’s goal in the draw it needed a big performance from the Dane at Anfield .
He duly delivered. He was a man on a mission. After struggling to contain Didier Drogba in the first leg, he did not smell the Ivorian at Anfield and scored the only goal,
sweeping the house from the edge of the box after Steven Gerrard’s free kick.
– Steven Gerrard (@ Gerrard8FanPage) July 27, 2015
Liverpool won the match on penalties and set up a meeting with AC Milan in what was a rematch of the famous Istanbul final in 2005.
Agger assisted Dirk Kuyt in the final moments of the contest, but there was no fairytale ending on the occasion, of course, as they were beaten 2-1.
Yet even though he failed to get a taste of European silverware, Agger’s performances in the competition are a testament to his ability to cut it with some of the best in the world.
After Brendan Rodgers arrived as manager, and with injuries still hampering his playing chances, it became clear that Agger’s career at Liverpool was drawing to a close.
And, in 2014 it turned out, but not before Agger scored his 14th and final goal in a red jersey in a 2-1 win over Newcastle at Anfield as he bid farewell to the Kop.
Agger received offers to join Manchester City and Barcelona during his time at Liverpool, but never wanted to leave. He was loyal and he loved the club.
And when Agger was finally forced to leave, it was no surprise that he returned to Denmark and his childhood club Brondby.
“I wouldn’t leave here to go anywhere else and that has been proven by my actions in recent seasons,” he said.
With YNWA tattooed on the knuckles of his right hand, it was fair to say that no one would ever have doubted Agger’s loyalty to Liverpool, but the man himself expressed it best – a place that looks like you. , the more it creeps into your skin and becomes a part of you. The people, the place, everything felt good.
Indeed, he did.
By Sam Cooke
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