Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who enjoyed a storied 17-year career at the Merseyside club, became the player he was after taking up the Liverpool captaincy, says former Finland international Sami Hyppia.
The defender, who spent ten years at Liverpool between 1999 and 2009, was the captain of the side from the start of the 2002-03 season till October 2003 when Steven Gerrard succeeded him in the role.
Hyppia, whose performances markedly dipped during his spell as the captain, claims to be relieved when the responsibility was taken off him and opined that Gerrard was well suited for the role.
"I am that kind of person who takes defeats personally. So when I was the captain, the burden was even more," Hyppia told Goal on the sidelines of a 'meet-and-greet' event at COURTS Megastore in Singapore. "I had a tough period before I gave the armband to Gerrard. It was a relief for me that the burden was off my shoulders.
"I will always remember that day. Gerrard Houllier (then Liverpool manager) announced that (Steven) Gerrard will be the captain. I said, 'Ok. No problem'. The next day I couldn’t find him in training. The first time I met him after that he was trying to look away from me and I congratulated him and told him he deserved it and I will be there to help him in any way.
"It was a great moment. I still get emotional (when I recollect it). He fully deserved to be the captain. He went to a totally different (level) after getting the armband."
The 44-year-old went on to define what it took to captain a big team like Liverpool and outlined the challenges that come with the role.
"First, you have to be a good player (to captain a team like Liverpool). So that you can play every week for the club. You need certain qualities. You need to be consistent. You have to communicate on the field," Hyppia stated.
"When you are captain of such a big team and sometimes when things are not going your way, you have to communicate and lead by example and help the team to do better. I was lucky in my time in Liverpool that we had many leaders in the team - not only the captain on whom the team relied. When I had an off day, there were others who lifted everyone up. It was easy that time."
When asked to name a player with whom he loved to play with during his playing career, Hyppia pointed out that he enjoyed lining up alongside the likes of Jamie Carragher, Stephane Henchoz and Dietmar Hamann.
"There are so many. I had good partnerships with Jamie Carragher and Stephane Henchoz. They were very easy to play with and maybe Dietmar Hamann and the goalkeepers were always my best friends. If ever did any mistake they would correct it. (But) no one stands out for me," he stated.