5 Biggest Liverpool Cult Heroes
Liverpool fans have been fortunate to witness some of the best players in the world pulling on the red shirt during the club’s illustrious history, with that history featuring decades of memories.
Often, though, the players who inspire against the odds attract the most love and affection from supporters.
It can be difficult to define a "cult hero" from a player that fans admire simply because they happen to be very good at their job, but these players can often raise a smile through just how hard they work and how much they strive to achieve.
Cult heroes don’t necessarily have to be around for long, but the mere mention of their name has to bring back warm memories for supporters, just like these five do:
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"Joey Ate The Frogs Legs, Made The Swiss Roll, Now He's Munching Gladbach."
This famous banner was unveiled at the 1977 European Cup Final at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, as Joey Jones started at left-back in the 3-1 win over German side Borussia Moenchengladbach, which secured Liverpool’s first ever European Cup.
You don’t get a tribute like that without being loved, and Welshman Jones was perhaps the first real cult hero at Liverpool, his boyhood club who he carried everywhere with him thanks to the Liverbird tattooed on his arm.
Jones joined the Reds from Wrexham in 1975, and was a key part of one of the greatest ever Liverpool teams in the 1976/77 season, when the Reds only just missed out on winning the treble as Manchester United beat them in the FA Cup Final.
His tough-tackling approach won him many admirers, and he made exactly 100 appearances for the Reds before returning to Wrexham in 1978.
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Affectionately christened "Mad Erik" by Liverpool supporters, big Dutch forward Erik Meijer arrived at the club from Bayer Leverkusen in 1999.
His passion and love for the Reds was immediately apparent, and what he may have lacked in footballing ability he certainly made up for in effort, whilst he was regularly seen to be turning to the Kop and pumping his fists in a bid to create more of an atmosphere.
Meijer’s only Liverpool goals in 27 appearances both came in a League Cup game at Hull City, but he became a bigger hit with fans once he’d left the club, even taking to the streets of Dortmund wearing his old Reds kit to drink and sing with fans before the 2001 UEFA Cup Final against Alaves.
The forward published recipes on his personal website, whilst after retirement he became a patron of AFC Liverpool, a grassroots club formed by Reds fans.
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In the days before Wikipedia and YouTube, footballers could arrive at a club with little fanfare and with supporters genuinely curious about just what they were getting.
Guinea international forward Aboubacar "Titi" Camara was just one of those footballers, and when he arrived at Liverpool from Marseille, Reds fans could be forgiven for wondering just who this new addition was. He turned out to be an eye-catching addition.
Michael Owen’s hamstring injury in the same game gave Camara more opportunities than perhaps even he thought he’d get, and he impressed Reds fans with his superb finishing skills and flair for the spectacular.
He scored the winning goal against West Ham on the very same day that his father died, with the forward falling to his knees and breaking down in tears upon finding the back of the Anfield Road End net. He’d wanted to score for his Dad.
A winner against Arsenal at Highbury followed as Camara ended the 1999/2000 season as Liverpool’s second top goal scorer with 10 strikes, but the arrival of Emile Heskey and a row with Gerard Houllier the following season saw his chances quickly become severely limited, and he left for West Ham in December 2000.
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When Rafael Benitez arrived at Liverpool in the summer of 2004, many thought that Igor Biscan would be one of the first names out of the door.
A Houllier signing in late 2001, the Croatian midfielder made his debut in a win at Old Trafford but in the following years he had flattered to deceive, often being used at centre-back to frequently disappointing results.
Injuries to Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Dietmar Hamann at various times saw Benitez give Biscan his chance though, and suddenly Liverpool looked like they had a new player on their hands.
He scored his first goal for the club as the Reds came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 at Fulham with 10 men, but it was a Champions League win at Deportivo La Coruna a few weeks later in which he really stood out, as he produced a masterful midfield display.
Biscan played almost every minute of both legs in the 2005 Champions League second round, quarterfinal and semifinal ties against Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea, and although he was an unused substitute for the incredible final in Istanbul, he had done as much as anyone to get Liverpool there and thoroughly deserved his winner's medal.
He left for Panathinaikos that summer with his reputation truly enhanced.
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Speaking of Istanbul…
Jerzy Dudek had been a Liverpool player for four years by the time the Reds reached the 2005 Champions League Final, and he took his place in goal in the Turkish capital having competed with Chris Kirkland and Scott Carson to don the gloves all season.
The Pole had had an up-and-down Reds career, with high profile errors and moments to remember such as the man-of-the-match performance in the 2003 League Cup Final win over Manchester United.
He was powerless to prevent AC Milan cutting the Reds to ribbons in the first half in Istanbul, but just as Milan’s red and black ribbons were being put on the famous European Cup trophy, Liverpool amazingly stormed back.
Having taken the match to extra-time, Liverpool then had Dudek to thank for an astonishing, physics-defying save from Andriy Shevchenko in the dying moments, before the goalkeeper called upon the spirit of Bruce Grobbelaar and his "wobbly legs"—a tactic used by the goalkeeper when the Reds won the trophy on penalties against Roma in Rome in 1984—to put off the Milan penalty takers in the shootout.
Dudek saved from Andrea Pirlo and then Shevchenko to secure the most remarkable European Cup Final win of all time, with the Pole etching himself into both Liverpool and football history.
He stayed at the club for another two years, but the arrival of Pepe Reina—which had been all but secured before Istanbul—saw him shunted to the sidelines, but never to be forgotten.