We loved Daniel Agger. Well, most of us did. But why?
Was it because when he arrived, he promised to be something we all craved? A ball-playing centre back. A proper, genuine, bring it out from the back, ball-playing centre back… We hadn’t had one of them for a while. Plus he was left-footed and there’s something strangely alluring about the left-footed centre back.
Sure, Hyypia was a magnificent player, Henchoz had been part of a solid partnership and Carra would defend as if his life depended on it. But this lad was different, he was classy.
My generation had grown up on Phil Babb, John Scales, Neil Ruddock, Dominic Matteo, Mark Wright…. hardly inspirational figures. We were starved of a defensive icon, a defender who was more than just run of the mill. A defender who did more than just defend.
We knew the tales of Ron Yeats, Emlyn Hughes, Tommy Smith, Phil Thompson et al. Colossal figures from a rich history laden with colossal figures. Players engrained in the history and success of Liverpool Football Club. Players intrinsic to that success. Agger was going to be one of them, in fact, he was going to be just like the best of them. He was going to be our Hansen.
Except he wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, he had his moments. Too many for me to list them in fact. Long-range screamers (I have a notoriously bad memory, but I’ll never forget the strikes against Blackburn and West Ham), marauding runs from the back, arrowed balls across the field and that calmness on the ball. At times he was the star centreback in Ruud Gullit’s Sexy Football XI. At times. At times…
At times because he was often injured.
Those with a far greater interest in statistics will able to tell you the percentage of games that Daniel Agger actually participated in. And those not in the Daniel Agger love-in will point to those statistics as justification for Daniel Agger not being a “Liverpool Legend”.
They will point to this lack of games and relative lack of success at a club synonymous with silverware – one League Cup and a Community Shield are all that reside in the Agger household trophy cabinet (I’m reliably informed that all players have these cabinets as they’re all so desperate to put stuff in them) – as reasons not to love Daniel Agger. And they will be wrong because they do not know how to love.
No, he wasn’t our Hansen and no he wasn’t someone who could be relied upon to play week in, week out. But I’ll tell you what he was. He was a red.
Not a ‘badge kissing one minute, angling for a move the next’ type. A bonafide club man.
And that’s why we loved him. For understanding what it meant to represent Liverpool Football Club. For having YNWA tattooed on his knuckles. For stating that he could never play for a rival club. For smashing Torres when he did just that. For turning down moves to top European clubs. For making Liverpool his home. For being a leader and the logical choice as vice-captain when Jamie Carragher retired. For only leaving to return to Brondby, where his career began.
Ultimately Daniel Agger was an often brilliant defender and a man who took pride in wearing that famous red shirt, but most of all, he was one of us. And that’s why I’ll always love him.