Sami Hyypia is a defender who plays for Finland and Liverpool in the English Premier League. His leadership qualities have shone through, even from a very young age, and he has proven himself as one of the best defenders in Europe over the years, with a UEFA Cup and Champions League winner’s medals. Though he is now used as experienced back-up at Liverpool, he remains Finland’s most capped player and captain.
Sami Hyypia was born on 7th October 1973, in Poorvoo, Finland. He is the son of two footballers – with his father playing professionally for a lower-league Finnish team and his mother also playing as a goalkeeper for fun. As a child he preferred ice-hockey, but with his parents obsessed by football, he soon took up a healthy interest in the beautiful game, and got quite good at it! Hyypia is a tall and commanding centre-back who has the experience and ability to take on the World’s best strikers, and come out on top.
Hyypia signed up with his Dad’s old team, Pallo-Peikot, when he was just 15, but it wasn’t until he moved to MyPa, aged 20, that he started to get noticed in footballing circles. Anyone who makes the first team at such a young age attracts the attention of Europe’s bigger clubs, and Sami was no exception – he was courted by Newcastle before moving across to Wilhem in Holland.
Within his four years at the Dutch club, Hyypia helped the team to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history, and also earned the respect of the fans, manager and his team-mates – he was made captain aged just 23. Four successful seasons at the Dutch club proved he had the ability and staying power to move on to bigger and better things.
Sami Hyypia arrived in Liverpool in July 1999, whilst Liverpool were trying to strengthen their squad to try and compete with Manchester United, who had just won the Champions League. As an unknown Finnish player, Hyypia didn’t cause much of a splash with the fans when he arrived for £2.6m, but he soon won a place in their hearts.
A fantastic partnership with Stephane Henchoz ensured that Hyypia was in the first team every week, and Liverpool enjoyed success – though have yet to win the Premier League. Sami helped Liverpool to lift the 2001 UEFA Cup and the 2005 Champions League trophies, often stepping in as captain when Redknapp and later Gerrard were absent.
As he has aged, Sami has lost some of his pace, allowing the younger defenders at Liverpool to steal a march on him and get in the first team. Hyypia is still a very reliable and experienced defender, and a great role-model for the younger defenders such as Agger and Insua. Having turned down big-money moves and first-team football, Sami seems set to stay at Liverpool until the end of his career.
Sami has been the vice-captain and captain of Finland for most of his international career, which began in 1992, when he was a nervy 19 year old. Although Finland have struggled to qualify for the major tournaments in World football, Hyypia has had his successes with the national side – scoring 5 goals along the way. He remains an important member of the Finland first team.