Liverpool FC's Chief Executive Rick Parry took time out of his hectic schedule to speak to FIFA.com about his team's involvement in the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005. In the interview he claims that the global exposure given by the tournament could help the Reds remain at the top for many years to come and hopes that another trophy will be winging its way back to Merseyside in time for Christmas.
FIFA.com: Mr. Parry, we have heard a lot of the players' perspectives about Istanbul, but what was it like for a Chief Executive?
Mr. Rick Parry: Much the same as every single supporter! I was looking at it as a supporter would, so I experienced the whole range of emotions. I have to say that the final against AC Milan was a microcosm of our entire season. We had downs then ups, lows then highs…but it was a pretty stunning way to end any match, let alone a UEFA Champions League final. The feeling at the end was indescribable; there is no point in putting into words. We did it against all the odds, but when all is said and done we are very proud to have played a part in what was a really memorable advert for the game of football.
Anfield is always a welcoming place to come to - but the buzz created by that win is still apparent six months on…
Yes and I think that is because it was such a dramatic game. Also, it was a success long overdue. Over 20 years since the last European Cup success was a long wait for the supporters. I think that the progress we made last season, against the odds: struggling in the league, not being the force we were in the 1980s, but you sense that there was a feeling as each round went by that we would do something special. When we went through after the last gasp win against Olimpiacos, the feeling of 'Maybe' turned to 'Why not?' and the excitement grew from there. We are now going to be Champions of Europe for a year. We have a trophy which no-one can take away from us after winning it five times, so we are determined to celebrate it.
Can you put into words how much football means to the city of Liverpool?
There is a passion, a real, real passion. We are a football club at heart. We exist to win matches and trophies. Our ambition is a very simple. We want to win silverware - and it is very frustrating when we don't. For us, it is all about success on the pitch and our fans feel the same way.
Liverpool has already established itself as a global name in the world of football, but do you think that the club's participation in the FIFA Club World Championship will give it a further boost?
We know that we are a club that has a worldwide following and I think one of the reasons why I am really looking forward to being in Japan is that it is a reward for our many supporters in Asia. It will be fantastic for them to see us playing in a competitive tournament. We'll be going there to try to win. We would love to come back as World Champions, so we will be taking it seriously.
When you are trying to attract extra investment into the club, how important could this competition be for Liverpool?
It is very important. As everybody knows we have been looking to secure investment for some time now. We are not looking for a quick-fix, but long-term security which will help to take us to the next level. Clearly, the more successful we are on the pitch; the more successful we are going to be off it. To be going to Japan as the Champions of Europe will help in that respect. This will be a great platform. I think the stadiums will be full. I think there will be a huge TV audience, so of course it may help. We want to improve the stadium, the team and we want trophies on a regular basis.
It also gives you a chance to create bonds and links with other clubs, doesn't it?
Yes, that's right. I have noticed it already having come back from two days in Zurich for the two-day workshop with the other competing teams. There was a great spirit of friendship, co-operation. That's the great thing about football and this competition in particular. You get to meet teams that ordinarily you never would. In football it always pays to make friends, because you never know when you may need people's support.
This is the only trophy that Liverpool have never won - what would it mean for you to bring it back home?
It would be great. It is a very difficult tournament to qualify for - the only way we could have entered the competition was by winning the UEFA Champions League, which is extremely difficult. We have played twice in TOYOTA Cups in 1981 and 1984 and lost on both occasions, so it would be tremendous to win it this time. I know how desperate Rafael Benitez and the players are to win it and that is an extremely encouraging sign.
Are the Liverpool fans looking forward to the tournament?
Yes, with mounting excitement as it gets closer. They love it when we win trophies. The club is all about silverware. We picked up the UEFA Super Cup this year, which was pleasing and they will be willing us on. I am sure we will be boosted by a passionate following from right across Asia, which will add another dimension to our support. We are looking forward to the experience.