Former Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia retires
The 37-year-old defender to call time on his 19-year career and announces plan to take up coaching role
Sami Hyypia, the former Liverpool captain, has announced his retirement at the age of 37.
The Finland centre-half, who has spent the last two seasons in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen, will take up a coaching role at the Bundesliga club next season.
“The decision to retire grew gradually during the season,” said Hyypia, who has 105 Finland caps. “I had no interest any more to go elsewhere to play.
“My time at Leverkusen has been fascinating and will finish with a direct qualification for the Champions League.
“I’ve spent two years with a superb team and a wonderful club which is giving me the opportunity to start my coaching career.”
Hyypia began his career in Finland at Pallo-Peikot before joining MyPa in 1992, where he won the Finish Cup twice. In 1995 he had a trial with Newcastle United but the 22-year-old was not offered a permanent deal.
“They [Newcastle] certainly helped my career,” said HyypiÃƒÂ¤. “I had a two-week trial in 1995 under Kevin Keegan and it gave me an insight into English football.
“I was a young player in Finland and I didn’t really expect it to lead to anything. I just went for the experience, but it was good experience and I enjoyed my time there.
“It helped me a lot at the time to see a big English club at close hand and I always look forward to going back.”
Hyypia then joined Dutch side Willem II and became a crowd favourite during his four-year spell at the club. In his final season in Holland he captained the side to second place in the Eriedivisie, securing Champions League qualification.
Gerard Houiller brought Hyypia to Liverpool for £2.5m in 1999 and the defender captained the Merseysiders to their cup treble in 2001 before being replaced as skipper by Steven Gerrard two years later.
“There was nothing dramatic over changing the captain,” Hyypia said at the time. “I didn’t say anything because it was the manager’s decision and I respect that.
“Of course, I am not happy about it but on the other hand now, I can just concentrate on playing.”
The Anfield legend’s solid partnership with Jamie Carragher proved instrumental to the club’s Champions League success in 2005.
Hyypia left Liverpool in 2009 after the club were pipped to the Premier League title by bitter rivals Manchester United by four points.
Roy Hodgson unsuccessfully attempted to bring Hyypia back to Liverpool after he took the reigns at Anfield.
“We couldn’t get him out of his contract”, Hodgson said. “He’s one I would also put in the Jamie Carragher-Steven Gerrard mould – Liverpool for life.
“I can see players like Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard never leaving Liverpool Football Club. I can see them always being part of the club. In the same way I’m a bit disappointed that my attempts to bring Sami Hyypia back failed.”