Legends entertain with classy display

Clockwise from above: Dietmar Hamann scores the second goal for Liverpool legends. Ian Rush raises the trophy. United's Ronny Johnsen high-fives fans at the National Stadium.
Dietmar Hamann scores the second goal for Liverpool legends.ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JING
Clockwise from above: Dietmar Hamann scores the second goal for Liverpool legends. Ian Rush raises the trophy. United's Ronny Johnsen high-fives fans at the National Stadium.
Ian Rush raises the trophy. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JING
Clockwise from above: Dietmar Hamann scores the second goal for Liverpool legends. Ian Rush raises the trophy. United's Ronny Johnsen high-fives fans at the National Stadium.
Clockwise from above: Dietmar Hamann scores the second goal for Liverpool legends. Ian Rush raises the trophy. United's Ronny Johnsen high-fives fans at the National Stadium.ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JING

English football stars of yesteryear lit up the National Stadium yesterday, showcasing tricks and flicks that belied their age.

For the record, the Liverpool Masters came out victorious in the Castlewood Battle of the Reds, beating their Manchester United counterparts 2-0.

But, for once, the score was not the main talking point.

More importantly, an effervescent crowd of 30,000 had a chance to reminisce about the days when the men on the field were among the game's finest talents.

Anfield icon Robbie Fowler is stouter and slower than his predatory prime, but his first touch remains first class.

Ian Rush's hair is whiter than Vladimir Smicer's boots, though he remains red-hot in the box.

The 54-year-old set up the opener for Luis Garcia, drawing away two markers to allow the Spaniard to finish with a looping header into the top corner of Nick Culkin's goal.

German midfield maestro Dietmar Hamann sealed the win late on with a trademark long-range piledriver.

"Liverpool kept picking us off through the middle - they really showed the quality they've got," United midfielder Quinton Fortune admitted.

Some of the veteran players may have lost their six-pack abs, but their one-touch passing and one-two combinations have stood the test of time.

Steve McManaman sprayed cross-field passes right onto the feet of his Liverpool team-mates. It goes to explain why he has two Champions League winners' medals - won with Real Madrid - in his trophy cabinet.

At the other end, United fan favourite Louis Saha shimmied past four opponents, reminiscent of the days when he was among Europe's most-feared strikers.

The evening began on a sombre note, with a minute's silence held in honour of victims of Friday's terror attacks in Paris.

Once a ball was kicked in anger, the venue was transformed into a cacophony of noise as supporters of England's two most decorated football teams twirled scarfs and belted out classic tunes.

Amid hearty renditions of You'll Never Walk Alone and Glory Glory Man United, the Kallang wave spread across the stands, where nearly every football devotee was decked in their clubs' respective shade of red.

Handshakes and high-fives were exchanged between the players at the final whistle, before they patiently posed for selfies with adoring fans on the sidelines.

Rush, who won five top-flight titles with the Reds, said: "The support in Singapore is incredible. We wanted to win for them, and I'm very glad we did."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline 'Legends entertain with classy display'. Print Edition | Subscribe