Interviews

Hamann and Heskey on Klopp, Sturridge and Liverpool's ambitions

Liverpool team-mates for four years, Emile Heskey and Dietmar Hamann will face off for England and Germany in Singapore's Battle of Europe. First, they gave FourFourTwo Singapore their thoughts on all things LFC...

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I think this is the year to judge (Klopp). He’s got his own team now and he’s had a full pre-season with the lads

- Emile Heskey

FFT: What did you think when Liverpool were initially linked with Jurgen Klopp and then after he was appointed?

DH: I thought it was all very positive. He made a good name for himself in Germany and I always felt as though his passion and attitude would be a great fit with Liverpool.

EH: I thought it was a good appointment and I was very happy at the time. He had a great record at Borussia Dortmund and seems to be a great man-manager.

FFT: How did you view the strength of the squad he inherited and how did you rate his efforts through to the end of the 2015/16 season?

DH: I think he inherited a decent squad, it just needed some pace added, which I think he has done! He did OK last season, he made some changes and naturally took a few weeks for the players to adapt. He made good progress and made those two finals in the League Cup and Europa League. Obviously it was just a little disappointing to lose them both.

Both players were happy with Klopp's appointment

They added some power and pace in Wijnaldum and Mane. They seemed to do good business for reasonable money

- Didi Hamann

EH: The squad he inherited wasn’t too bad, but it had some key areas that needed improving. He seems to have brought in some useful additions. Bearing in mind it was always going to take time for him to get his methods across, I think he did OK. Obviously the top four was the target, but I think this is the year to judge him on. He’s got his own team now and he’s had a full pre-season with the lads.

FFT: What did you think of the club’s work during the transfer window?

DH: Very good – they added some power and pace in Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane. They seemed to do some good business for reasonable money.

Hamann and Heskey felt Mane was value for money

EH: I thought they did some good business. Sadio Mane looks like a brilliant signing. He has been very impressive and, along with Joel Matip, just what Liverpool needed. Matip seems very mature and like he will develop in to a great centre-half.

FFT: Which new players in particular, if any, excited you ahead of the new season?

DH: I think the defender Joel Matip was a top buy, especially on a free transfer. He has serious potential. Mane has also hit the ground running.

EH: Mane and Matip – see above.

FFT: What have you made of the club’s efforts through a fairly difficult start to the season?

DH: I think it’s been an exceptional start to the season. It could be argued that Liverpool have achieved more than anyone else so far when you look at the fixtures they've played and the points achieved.

EH: So far it seems like they’re having some of the same old problems! They need to tighten up at the back and become more consistent. The first two games were a perfect example – a brilliant victory at Arsenal and then they never turned up for the Burnley game.

No Europe is a disappointment – the players would want to put themselves up against the best teams every season

- Hamann

FFT: Do you view missing out on Europe as a bonus for the Reds this season or as a disappointment?

DH: No Europe this season is a disappointment – the players would want to put themselves up against the best teams and players in Europe every season.

EH: This season it’s probably a bonus to be honest – it’s a chance to focus on the league and only have to prepare for one game a week most weeks.

FFT: What do you think the club should be targeting in this year’s Premier League: Top four or title tilt? And what would you consider a successful season overall in 2016/17?

DH: Making the top four this year would make it a good season. We need to win a trophy in the next couple of years too, it’s been too long!!

EH: A top-four finish.

FFT: We all know Daniel Sturridge’s immense talent, but he hasn’t been able to show it consistently of late. Would you like to see the club persist with him?

Heskey is very keen for the Reds to persist with Sturridge

DH: It depends on him staying fit and performing. In my opinion he is the most capable striker in the league, bar Sergio Aguero. But we need to start seeing a consistent return from his talent.

EH: Most definitely – he’s an outstanding talent, one of those players who can just make something out of nothing. He’s had a slow start to the season, but when he's fit and on form there are very few in his calibre.

FFT: What are your memories of playing at Anfield and also of playing alongside each other?

DH: I had a great journey with the club. It was seven fantastic years, the atmosphere at Anfield is incredible and I always had brilliant support from the fans. Emile was a great buy at the time, exactly what the team needed. He’s one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever played with and always sacrificed himself for the team. He would regularly create space for his strike partner and midfield runners and linked up perfectly with Michael Owen.

Heskey and Hamann (here with Michael Owen) had some top times in Red

EH: I have great memories and Didi was such an intelligent player and a wonderful passer of the ball. A lot of people consider Claude Makelele as the original central defensive midfielder, but in my opinion Didi was that player.

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FFT: How much are you looking forward to getting the boots back on in Singapore for the Battle of Europe? What are your thoughts on Singapore from the time you’ve spent here?

DH: I love Singapore! I always look forward to going there. Lovely people and we are always made to feel so welcome, particularly with such a big Liverpool following! And I’m really excited to play in the Battle of Europe. It will be highly competitive – like all England v Germany games are. It will be good to play against some old foes and I’m looking forward to playing in the National Stadium again. I was lucky enough to be involved in the Battle of the Reds last year and it was such a great atmosphere!

Both have featured in previous Masters events. Photo: Masters Football

EH: I can't wait to go back to Singapore – what a fantastic country! I was blown away by the passion for football last time I was there. I’m excited to get the boots on again and I’m already back in training ahead of the big game! I’m particularly looking forward to playing with Scholesy (Paul Scholes) again. He’s the best player I ever played with.

For more on Battle Of Europe 2016, see Masters Football Asia and Sports Hub Tix