Football Features

Some rival club’s players might deep down be happy about Liverpool’s title win

By Squawka News

Published: 11:02, 29 June 2020

Liverpool owes a few trophies to Steven Gerrard but it turns out during his playing career, the former Reds captain actually won the club some high-profile fans within the football world too.

The heroics of the 2005 Champions League victory in Istanbul and the FA Cup win at the Millennium Stadium a year later, it seems, earned the admiration of several budding footballers who would go on to become star names in their own right.

A prestigious history has also meant supporters’ allegiances have been passed on from one generation to another. And that’s seen some pretty decent players in the game right now confess to having been boyhood Reds.

Here, in their own words, are a select few whose inner child would have undoubtedly celebrated their first league success in 30 years.

Adrien Rabiot

Current team: Juventus

What they said: “I think I would like to experience something else [outside Ligue 1]. There are a lot of very good championships, it’s also very rewarding to go elsewhere. I would love to play in the Premier League, not necessarily one club in particular, even though I was very fond of Liverpool when I was young.” (2017)

The Frenchman won five Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain before joining Juventus in the summer of 2019.

He was a regular for a PSG side that regularly annihilated their opposition, starring in regular Ligue 1 and Champions League games throughout his tenure with the club.

Rabiot, who plays in a deeper midfield role, saw appearances become limited under Thomas Tuchel which led to his journey south, but he’s since been struggling to cement a starting berth under Maurizio Sarri.

Key stat: Not a prolific goalscorer, Rabiot is instead a master passer of the ball and has a pass success rate of 91.4% in Serie A.

Kevin De Bruyne

Current team: Manchester City

What they said: “I have always followed the Premier League because my mother is half English. We probably followed it more than Belgian football and, when I was young, we liked Liverpool.” (2012)

The Manchester City starlet’s English roots meant his family supported Liverpool as he grew up.

The Belgian international, whose boyhood idol was Michael Owen, is enjoying a stellar period in football with City and won two Premier League titles to date.

De Bruyne previously had spells at Chelsea and Wolfsburg and since Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad in 2016, De Bruyne has become integral to the free-scoring and goal-scoring City side, netting 52 times and featuring in 212 matches.

Key stat: De Bruyne managed to bag himself 16 assists in the Premier League this season.

Sergio Aguero

Current team: Manchester City

What they said: “If I had to choose a league then it would be the Premier League. I have been a Liverpool fan for as long as I can remember and it would be a dream to play there. I watched the Champions League final and celebrated every goal as if it was for Independiente.” (2006)

The Argentine striker was a teenage Liverpool fan at the time of the Reds’ historic Champions League victory at Istanbul, admitting his admiration just before he left boyhood club Independiente for Atletico Madrid in 2006.

It was reported that Aguero would have been keen to work under Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez at the time amidst the interest of other clubs. The 32-year-old initially proved himself a prolific goalscorer at Atletico, where he tallied 101 total goals before making the move to the Etihad in 2011. He has since scored 254 times – becoming Manchester City’s all-time top goalscorer.

Key stat: Aguero has scored 16 Premier League goals this season, behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17), Mohamed Salah (17), Danny Ings (18) and Jamie Vardy (19).

Dele Alli

Current team: Tottenham

What they said: “Gerrard was a big reason I began supporting Liverpool. I remember Istanbul, the FA Cup final, and the game against Olympiakos: Gerrard just scoring amazing goals. Gerrard was a big influence on why I supported Liverpool.” (2015)

Alli was one of the country’s finest youth talents and still at just 24, has gone from strength to strength each season he has spent at White Hart Lane, an integral part of an impressive Harry Kane-led Spurs side.

The England international progressed through the youth ranks at Milton Keynes and at 19 years old, he had already attracted the interest of then Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers in early 2013/14. Rodgers was in talks with MK Dons manager Karl Robinson about Alli’s potential, and he looked destined for a move to Anfield – but the midfielder ended up leaving for the Lilywhites in a £5m fee, the Reds ruing the loss.

Alli cites Gerrard’s Champions League wonder goal against Olympiakos as one of the reasons he grew up supporting the Reds.

Key stat: Alli has scored 62 goals for Tottenham Hotspur in 220 appearances for the club.

Patrick Roberts

Current team: Middlesbrough (on loan from Manchester City)

What they said: “My dad is a Liverpool fan and my mum is Everton so there is a divide! My idol was Steven Gerrard and as a Reds fan, the 2006 final was a great memory, to see him score with a volley was nice.” (2017)

Boro winger Patrick Roberts, 23, is still a player with great potential despite agreeing to another loan spell away from Manchester City.

Under Brenden Rodgers at previous loan club Celtic, the former England U-20 international was given the freedom to operate in an inside-forward role with the choice to attack the centre or stay out wide.

The Celtic boss admitted he would have broken the club’s transfer record to sign Roberts had City not refused to sell permanently.

Roberts was part of the Celtic side that won the Scottish Premiership and featured twice in their Champions League campaign, scoring in their emphatic 3-0 win over Anderlecht.

Despite Roberts’ parents supporting rival Merseyside teams, Roberts grew up a Liverpool fan – with Stevie’s famous double in the 3-3 FA Cup final thriller against West Ham to take the game to extra time a particularly fond memory for him.

Key stat: Patrick Roberts has made five Championship appearances so far this season but is yet to net for his latest loan side, although he did grab his first assist against Stoke City recently.

Adebayo Akinfenwa

Current Team: Wycombe Wanderers

What they said: Let me say this for the people in the back. Standing with the captain of the premier league champions. Well done fully deserved.”

Adebayo Akinfenwa is known to most for his monstrous physique and robust approach to the game, even now at 38 years old, but for those who follow him on social media, his love for Liverpool is quite apparent.

“The Beast” regularly posts on his Instagram page wearing a Liverpool shirt and after the Reds sealed the title, he uploaded a picture of himself stood with captain Jordan Henderson.

Furthermore, Akinfenwa even happily incurred a club fine by turning up to a Wycombe team meeting in a Liverpool shirt.

“Only time I’ve been happy to pay a club fine!! Liverpool FC champions,” his post read.

Key stat: Akinfenwa scored on his only career appearance against Liverpool — a 2-1 FA Cup defeat for AFC Wimbledon back in January 2015.

Sven-Goran Eriksson

What they said: “I’ve always been a Liverpool fan. I can say that now, I couldn’t say that when I was in England but I was always since I was young.”

Remembered most for his time as England manager, where he struggled to fit Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard into the same team, or, at a push, for his spell in the Manchester City dugout, it may come as some surprise that Sven-Goran Eriksson is actually a Liverpool fan.

The Swedish tactician credits his father for turning him red, and perhaps that has something to do with his winless record against Liverpool as a manager?

Sven has spent the last few years in Asia, managing various Chinese Super League clubs and, most recently, the Philippines national team, although he only lasted 10 games in the latter role.

Key stat: Eriksson failed to win in each of his four games against Liverpool as a manager, drawing once and losing the other three.