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02nd May 2018

Didi Hamann reveals he didn’t speak to a Liverpool teammate for a year

"Not a bad lad, just not my cup of tea"

Robert Redmond

Didi Hamann has offered some insights into behind the scenes during his time Liverpool.

Hamann spent seven years at Anfield, playing over 200 times and was part of a team that won the Champions League, two FA Cups, two League Cups and the UEFA Cup.

The German midfielder’s introduction in the Champions League final in 2005, with the team trailing 3-0 to a brilliant AC Milan side, is seen by many as the turning point in the game.

Liverpool somehow managed to get the score level at 3-3 and win the game on penalties.

Hamann credits Rafa Benitez’s appointment as manager the previous summer as the turning point for that Liverpool team.

In his first pre-season in 2004, after arriving from Valencia, the Spaniard called a team meeting and made some observations about the dynamic of the squad.

Hamann says Benitez forced players to leave their comfort zone and move outside the groups they had formed within the squad and claims such attention to detail would lead the club to success.

“(Benitez said) You finished 30 points off the top last season but are you a 30-points-inferior squad? No? Then why, he challenged players,” Hamann said in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“Rafa said, ‘I’ve been here three days. The last person comes to dinner and the first’s already gone. Here’s the English [clique], here’s the French and here’s the united nations… from now on I don’t want to see you sit next to the same person twice. And the first doesn’t get up before the last finishes dinner. It’s about respect.'”

Benitez’s order prompted Hamann to finally speak to Harry Kewell, the Australian winger who joined Liverpool a year earlier from Leeds United.

“I don’t think I’d ever spoken to him (until Benitez arrived). Not a bad lad, just not my cup of tea,” Hamann says.

“So I sat down next to Harry, ‘How’s it going H? Missus? Kids? How old are they now, are they in school?’

“Twenty minutes later I’m in my room thinking, ‘He’s actually all right’. I’m not saying that’s the reason we won the Champions League, but Rafa started a thought process in everybody that day.”

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