There are two gaping holes in Liverpool centre-back Sami Hyypia's medal collection - an English league Premiership winners' medal and one for the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup. The 32-year-old Finn is eager to make amends by adding to an already bulging trophy cabinet when the Merseysiders take on champions from around the world in Japan this month.
There is very little that Hyypia has not done, or won in the game. In May, he hoisted the UEFA Champions League trophy - Liverpool's fifth. Three months later in Monaco, he held aloft the UEFA Super Cup after his side came from behind to beat UEFA Cup winners CSKA Moscow 3-1. These and previous accomplishments - including a five trophy sweep of the FA Cup, English League Cup, FA Community Shield, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup all in 2001 would surely satisfy the demands of any modern day professional but Hyypia says he wants to be a world champion before his contract with the Reds expires in June 2008.
"Liverpool FC - world champions’ - it sounds great doesn’t it?" Hyypia exclaimed when he recently chatted to FIFA.com recently. "It would mean a lot to us, to everyone in the city. I think, for our fans, Liverpool already is the best club in the world - but it would be nice for us to prove it to them".
Since he joined from Dutch side Willem II in 1999 Hyypia, perhaps more than any other figure in Liverpool's recent sides, has exemplified the club's illustrious tradition in continental football. The experience he has gained over the years and his composure during moments of tension in important meetings will be paramount in Liverpool's challenge for the only cup in existence that has never managed to find its way into the Anfield trophy room.
"It will be a completely unique experience for myself and the rest of the players", the defender added. "I don’t think any of us have taken part in a competition like this before - and maybe we may never get this type of opportunity again. Hopefully, going to Japan will be an enjoyable experience and we return with another trophy. I am sure I will enjoy the experience. We are representing Europe, so we know that it is a very big thing for us."
Liverpool's two previous attempts at winning the trophy were scorned in 1981, by Flamengo, then three years later by Independiente. On both occasions, the South Americans got the better of what is generally believed be have been Liverpool's greatest ever team.
Hyypia is quick to point out the relevance of a triumph in Japan, saying: "I think this is the type of competition, like many other knockout competitions when only the winner's name is remembered. In time, people will forget who took part, but the winner's name will be recorded in history for ever. We are going to make history. We want to win it.
"From my own personal point of view, I only need a Premiership medal and a winner's medal from this competition to make my collection complete - so I would like to get a step closer. I would love to win it for Liverpool".