Hyypia still a hit with Reds fans

IT professional Teo Ling Hui meeting former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia at the Courts Megastore in Tampines yesterday.
IT professional Teo Ling Hui meeting former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia at the Courts Megastore in Tampines yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

He may have retired six years ago, but former defensive stalwart Sami Hyypia still has a special place in the hearts of Reds fans.

Yesterday, more than 300 fans queued for nearly two hours at the newly redesigned Courts Megastore in Tampines for the opportunity to meet the Finn, who made 464 appearances in 10 years for the Reds, the last of them in 2009.

The 44-year-old had a warm smile for every fan who shook his hand, reserving special attention for the babies in attendance, many of whom he carried, to the delight of their parents.

IT professional Teo Ling Hui said Hyypia was "very friendly" even though she was among the last third of the queue.

"He's the only person I've seen who stands throughout," said Teo, 36, who has been a Liverpool fan for more than 10 years.

"I asked him jokingly when I could visit him in Finland and he just smiled at me.

"He's the top (Liverpool) defender in my heart."

She was one of five Straits Times readers who won meet-and-greet passes through a contest run jointly by ST and Courts.

Another contest winner was civil servant Munish Advani, 46, who has supported the Reds since 1984.

He said he would always remember Hyypia fondly for being part of the squad that memorably came from 0-3 down against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final to win on penalties.

"In all my years, that win in Istanbul was the best time to be a Liverpool fan for me," said Advani. "It was truly an honour to meet him for the first time."

Lester Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'Hyypia still a hit with Reds fans'. Print Edition | Subscribe