EOTK Insider: 🏆 Liverpool's Two World Cup Winners and 14 Finalists, ahead of Qatar 🔴
Anfield has been home to some of the greatest players world football has ever seen but surprisingly there have only been two players to win the tournament, whilst they were playing for the Reds
Whilst there may be some debate over modern day Liverpool supporters and their interest in the England national team and international football as a whole, there is a surprisingly short list of World Cup victors to come from Anfield.
This winter’s edition of the tournament is just the 22nd time that a World Cup has been held. Qatar are the controversial hosts and with just Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Ibou Konate and Darwin Nunez travelling - Jurgen Klopp has a small chance of being able to say he manages a player that is set to clinch what is widely regarded as the biggest trophy in football.
There have only been two instances in which a Liverpool player has played in a game where their side went on to lift the World Cup and one of the above-mentioned men will be hoping to add their name to this illustrious list, this December.
Roger Hunt 1966
The first man comes in what is widely regarding as England’s greatest sporting moment and also one that seems to have haunted the nation in the now 56 years that have followed.
Christened ‘Sir Roger’ by the Kop, Hunt was one of three members of Bill Shankly’s side to be selected by Alf Ramsey for the home tournament. Record appearance holder Ian Callaghan and the man with Liverpool’s most famous collarbone, Gerry Byrne, also received a call-up.
Hunt was to be the only man handed any game time for the tournament though, this of course being the days before substitutions, and ended up playing in every single match on the way to the ultimate glory.
Despite being a goal scoring freak for the Reds, his role for the national team was more centred around making space for others and allowing them to shine. A job the Warrington-born forward did so well, he displaced national goal scoring hero Jimmy Greaves for the final against West Germany.
Hunt scored three times on the way to the big game but some called for his place to be taken by Greaves, after he recovered from an injury sustained earlier in the tournament. However, Ramsay remained strong and kept Sir Roger in the team.
Despite not scoring in the Wembley final, Hunt will remain forever linked to the famous goal that was given after Geoff Hurst’s effort cannoned off the underside of the crossbar. Debates have rumbled on for years over whether the ball actually crossed the line but watching Hunt with his arm aloft celebrating, rather than tapping the ball into the back of the net himself, shows that he was clearly convinced the correct decision was made.
Sir Roger Hunt is a man whose Anfield legacy alone means that he deserves to be forever remembered as our first World Cup winner.
Fernando Torres 2010
For a man just six months away from his Anfield exit, watching Fernando Torres adorn a Liverpool scarf whilst posing with the World Cup in 2010 helped ease some worries over an impending departure. How wrong we all were.
During the Spanish national team’s all-conquering period on the international stage, our No.9 was by no means their best player but his qualities were undoubtedly important in helping them claim the biggest trophy available.
After scoring the winning goal in Euro 2008 and his legendary status being assured, the world had already seen the best of Torres by 2010. He was part a stuttering Liverpool side that had finished 7th in the Premier League and were firmly in a period of transition, with the looming departure of Rafa Benitez.
With Torres set to return to Roy Hodgson’s Reds after the tournament, there was already speculation that he could be about to leave Anfield. In South Africa however, Torres was initially handed a starting role by Vicente del Bosque and looked to be a key man in their pursuit of a first World Cup.
Failing to score in the competition certainly didn’t help him though and after starting the Round of 16 and Quarter Final games, Torres was dropped for the Semi-Final and the Final itself. Still featuring in all of the matches though does show that he was still a key member of the squad but it was a far cry from the performances that saw him be the scoring hero in 2008.
Coming onto the pitch with 14 minutes remaining of extra-time, Torres was a final roll of the dice to try and win the game against Holland without penalties and it worked. Our No.9 attempted a ball to Andres Iniesta but it was first cleared before Cesc Fabregas completed the job and the diminutive Barcelona midfielder emphatically struck home to claim the ultimate prize.
Many Liverpool fans celebrated as both Torres and Pepe Reina were part of the squad, as well as recently departed duo Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa.
Although Torres was certainly not as crucial as his 2008 performances, nor as Roger Hunt in 1966, it was a thrill to see a Red with the trophy for the first time in 44 years. The images of Torres in a Liverpool scarf made it even better - until he left for Chelsea in the January.
As mentioned above, Ian Callaghan and Gerry Byrne were in the England squad in 1966 and Pepe Reina part of the Spain team in 2010 to win the tournament but were not handed any minutes. Therefore, they have been discounted here but are still certainly players to have won the World Cup whilst playing for Liverpool but their roles were not too important at the time.
In 1990, Karl-Heinz Riedle played four times for West Germany in the tournament that saw his side clinch the World Cup but no minutes in the final sees him being very harshly cut from this list here. Riedle even played against England in the Semi-Final of Italia ‘90, scoring a penalty in the shoot-out.
Bernard Diomede featured three times for France in 1998 but wasn’t handed any minutes past the Round of 16. This was also to be his final three appearances for his nation, at a memorable World Cup for the French.
As well as the above victors, there have been some losing Reds in the Final. Didi Hamman and Christian Ziege lost to Brazil with Germany in 2002. Dirk Kuyt was part of a losing Dutch side to Spain in 2010. Javier Mascherano had his heart broken by Germany in extra-time in 2014. Finally, Dejan Lovren’s Croatia were defeated by France in Russia in 2018.
Not all of the winners and finalists were actually Liverpool players at the time either but still deserve a mention for achieving these feats and being former or future Reds.
Maybe there deserves to be a couple more names on the list of Liverpool players to have won the World Cup but there have only ever been two players on the pitch the moment their nation achieved the ultimate success.
Roger Hunt and Fernando Torres will forever be linked in that reason and perhaps it’s time for one (or more) man to add his name to this short but esteemed list. Let’s see how the next few weeks in Qatar play out and best of luck to our lads!
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