The mighty Greek

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FOOTBALL - By RORY SMITH

An­field in re­cent months has hardly been the stamp­ing ground of he­roes. The last year has been one of wit­ness­ing each and ev­ery one of liver­pool’s most revered icons fall from grace.

Steven Ger­rard, Mersey­side’s Ajax, has at times seemed con­quered by his own sor­row at the sight of the club he has de­voted his life to be­gin to stut­ter and stum­ble. fer­nando Tor­res, for­merly ev­ery inch an Achilles, has found his legs pep­pered with weak­nesses, his fal­li­bil­ity ev­i­dent to all. The sus­pi­cion lingers that Jamie Car­ragher, like nestor, is too old to en­gage in com­bat.

One man, though, has tran­scended the wreck­age of 12 months of despair and doubt to emerge with his rep­u­ta­tion not only in­tact but en­hanced. That man is Sotirios Kyr­giakos ( pic). Hence the se­quence of rather un­nec­es­sary il­iadic par­al­lels.

To re­cap: when Kyr­giakos set sail for Mersey­side, that fa­bled land of demigods, from AeK Athens, he did so as the nom­i­nal re­place­ment for Sami Hyypia. Kyr­giakos, on the other hand, had failed at Rangers, en­dured a tor­rid time at ein­tra­cht frank­furt and re­treated to the shadow of the Acrop­o­lis, seem­ingly con­tent to play out his ca­reer in his home­land. There might have been a case to make him a £1.5mil backup, a last re­sort, as Ben­itez ap­par­ently in­tended him to be.

His ini­tial skir­mishes hardly sug­gested a fu­ture re­plete with glory. He was at fault for both Bolton goals when Ben­itez’s side won 3-2 at the Ree­bok a year ago, while it was his slip which al­lowed lisan­dro lopez to all but elim­i­nate liver­pool from the Cham­pi­ons league in lyon last novem­ber.

liver­pool fans, pre­sum­ably, hoped that would be the end of him. Kyr­giakos, though, is made of sterner stuff. He per­se­vered. He be­came a cult hero for his un­stint­ing com­mit­ment, his re­fusal to wilt, his ef­fort and his en­thu­si­asm, what­ever his lack of nat­u­ral abil­ity.

not in the sense that all of his team-mates must as­pire to his level of tal­ent, of course. Kyr­giakos is, by all tra­di­tional mea­sure­ments, the worst player at liver­pool (which, given that some of those team-mates are Ryan Ba­bel, Paul Konch­esky and Chris­tian Poulsen, is some ac­co­lade). His first touch is poor, his pace ab­sent, his abil­ity to re­tain pos­ses­sion rudi­men­tary.

And yet it would be easy to make a case for him be­ing liver­pool’s best player since that night in lyon. Al­most alone among his out­field team-mates, when­ever Kyr­giakos plays, he does his job. He is em­ployed to win head­ers. So he does. in both boxes. He is tasked with mak­ing hefty chal­lenges, of clear­ing the area in front of Pepe Reina of dan­ger. So he does. His abil­i­ties are not glam­orous, they are not likely to in­spire YouTube com­pi­la­tions or paeans of praise from ob­servers, but he is what he is. in a team where so many are not what they were or so far from what they could be, he stands alone, never shirk­ing or stint­ing, as liver­pool’s un­likely Olympian. – © The daily Tele­graph UK 2010

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