August 04, 2014

Horse 1727 - The Liverpool 7 Kit

Formula One has finally taken the step this year of letting drivers choose a number that they will be able to have during their career; I think that this was way overdue. A number in a sporting context is a bit like a personal brand; something that lasts and something makes someone instantly identifiable.
You can see this in all sorts of sports, such as Michael Jordan's 23, Peter Brock's 05, Jerry Rice's 80, Jackie Robinson's 42, Babe Ruth's 3 - all of these are burned into the psyche of fans forever.

Equally, when a club has the same kit number that is passed on, it also can create a chain of mystique and for me (being heavily biased) the most prized kit in all of football, even more so than the Brazil, Argentina or Barcelona 10, is the Liverpool 7.
Admittedly the Liverpool 9 kit has had some real class pass through it like Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and the 8 kit has seen the likes of Stan Collymore, Emile Heskey and now Steven Gerrard who surely must go down as one of the greats.

But the Liverpool 7 kit... have a look at this line up:
Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Nigel Spackman, John Aldridge, Peter Beardsley, David Speedie, Dean Saunders, Nigel Clough, Steve McManaman, Vladimir Smicer, Harry Kewell, Robbie Keane, Luis Suarez.
Some stars, some duds and two liabilities.

The last on that list Luis Suarez, whilst being a supremely gifted player and winning both the Player of the Year and the Premier League's Golden Boot with 31 goals last season, is definitely a liability. The £75m paid for him by Barcelona is certainly apt compensation for a player whose career has now included a racial abuse charge and three biting incidents.
His departure leaves the famed Liverpool 7 kit vacant and I think that it should be awarded to Raheem Sterling.

As a winger he scored 9 goals last season (which isn't bad at all) but it is his workrate which is immense. As the 2013/14 season wore on and Liverpool caught a whiff of a league title, Sterling seemed to rise to a prescence which was far bigger than the space around him.
I'm actually a little disappointed that new signing Rickie Lambert was given the 9 kit. Sterling, Sturridge and Gerrard I think would form one of those golden triangles which previous 7s, 8s and 9s have done in seasons' past.
In the World Cup in Brazil, Sterling was one of only a few England players who as the tornament wore on, continued to play as though every game was winnable; as Liverpool fans should remember, even if you are 3-0 down at half time, no game can be or should be written off. That sort of attitude should be rewarded with a famous prize.

Liverpool came tantalisingly close to winning the league title for the first time in a quarter of a century last season. Somehow I think it would be fitting if the number 7 kit was allocated to a player, who was destined for greatness. He's even had the number 7 kit for the England squad, which rather ironically, somehow seems a lesser prize than a Liverpool 7.

Sterling 7, I suspect, would burn its own legend into the sporting psyche as other number 7s have done in the past like Dalglish, Keegan and even Beckham and dare I say it, the second best player that I've ever seen, Eric Cantona*.
If but hopefully when, the league trophy finally does come to rest at Anfield Rd L4, I'd hope that Raheem Sterling would be wearing the 7 kit in the celebratory photo. Legends last longer than just a season and I hope that this is written into that story.

Sterling 7. Please make it so.

No comments: