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Liverpool's 2001 team was better than the miracle of Istanbul squad - Hamann

08:32 BST 12/04/2020
Dietmar Hamann
Hamann played for the Reds in both their 2001 UEFA Cup win and their 2005 Champions League triumph, and thinks the former had the stronger players

Former Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann has given his verdict on the strongest Reds team he played in - and it was not the side who won the Champions League in Istanbul in 2005.

Hamann arrived at Anfield in 1999 as part of a major revamp of the playing squad, brought about by Gerard Houllier becoming manager in place of Roy Evans.

An £8 million signing from Newcastle United, Hamann was the most high profile addition among an influx which also included the likes of Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz and Vladimir Smicer.

Hamann proved to be worth the money, however, forming an essential part of Liverpool's midfield for the next seven years and helping the club win numerous major trophies.

Among his greatest achievements was the treble winning season of 2001, where Liverpool won the League Cup, FA Cup and Uefa Cup in a series of dramatic finals.

After beating Birmingham City on penalties to lift the League Cup, the Reds stunned Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup final as Michael Owen scored two late goals, before winning the Uefa Cup by beating Spanish side Alaves 5-4 thanks to a golden goal in extra time.

Four years later, Hamann was crucial to another great moment in modern Liverpool history, as they came from 3-0 down at half-time in the Champions League final in Istanbul, to beat AC Milan on penalties.

While the latter match is more celebrated than the final victories in 2001, Hamann thinks the Liverpool team which picked up the trio of trophies was the strongest Reds side he played in.

Hamann told the Liverpool Echo : "It was a special time. When I joined in 1999 I think I was one of six or seven players and they were all foreigners so I think Gerard Houllier took a big chance.

"We had some great English talent coming through so it was a gamble. Myself and Stephane [Henchoz] played in England already but you never know how long it will take for these players to adapt.

"I don't think anyone expected us that [2001] season to go and win trophies so quickly but it just showed how quickly we gelled and how much talent we really had.

"I saw a picture this week on Twitter, that team when we played Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi-final in 2001, it was a proper team.

"I would say it was the best squad I played with in my time. Looking at the strength in depth, it was better than the 2005 team that won the Champions League."