By Tim Treacy
The number 13 has a foreboding reputation which is said to date from ancient times. Friday the 13th occurs from one to three times a year and there will be three such occurrences in 2012, all of which are exactly 13 weeks apart [Dun Dun Dunnn!!!!!!!]
The number XIII portends to more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. Some sources state that it is the most widespread source of superstition in the World today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t leave their homes; and Friday the 13th is the cheapest day of the year to get married on. So then, if you played for LFC, would you wear the No. 13 jersey? Would you tempt fate or appease superstition? What has happened to the players that have worn the unlucky number 13 for Liverpool?
In 1993, the premier league was the first league in the world to assign persistent squad numbers to players, abandoning the mandatory use of 1–11 for the starting line-up that has been use since 1954. Although many players during the 1980’s, and 1970’s had particular numbers associated with them, the players themselves did not ‘own’ the number, it was merely an indication of their position in the team. It wasn’t until 1993, that players were given squad numbers.
The following six players all wore and were assigned the number 13 shirt for Liverpool for at least one season.
1. David James
David James wore the number 13 shirt for the 1993/94 season when he was understudy to Bruce Grobbelarr. James also wore the number 13 shirt for England. ‘Calamity James’ as he was known by many, had six error prone seasons at Liverpool. It wasn’t until he left the club in 1999, while also leaving the pressure of playing for Liverpool behind him, that he began to somewhat fulfill the potential that made Graeme Souness pay a record £1M for him in 1992, (£8.5M by 2012 Standards). Was James doomed from the day he wore the number 13 on his back?!
2. Michael Stensgaard
3. Tony Warner
Tony Warner was the third and last Liverpool keeper to wear the jersey. A Liverpool trainee, he became Liverpool reserve keeper in 1994-95 when Stensgaard got injured. He never played for LFC, but was an unused substitute some 120 times. He now plays for Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand, his 16th club of his career culminating in over 300 professional appearances since he left Liverpool in 1999.
4. Karl-Heinz Riedle
Karl-Heinz Riedle was singed by Roy Evans for £1.8M (£6.9M by 2012 Standards) in 1997. In the previous season, Riedle scored two goals for Dortmund in the Champions League cup final as they beat Juventus. In 1990 he was one of the world’s most expensive players, signing for Lazio for £7.5M (£60M by 2012 standards). Signing for Liverpool at 32 years young, Riedle was an expensive signing given his age. Although he made 60 appearances scoring 11 goals for LFC he was never able to nail down a starting position and it was clear his best days were behind him. He moved to Fulham in 1999, retiring 2 years later.
5. Danny Murphy
Danny Murphy, probably Liverpool’s most famous and most loved number 13. He is still a favorite of many fans and he had a great knack for scoring against Manchester United, scoring the winning goal in three games against them. Murphy joined Liverpool for £1.5M (£6.5M by 2012 standards) from Crewe in 1997. ‘Super Dan’ scored 44 goals in 249 appearances for Liverpool. In 2004, Rafa Benitez moved Murphy on within weeks of becoming LFC manager. It was a strange decision by Bentiez given that Murphy was voted the LFC player of the season for 2003/04 and many Liverpool fans still harbor some resentment towards Benitez for that move. Number XIII was very favorable to Murphy during his time at Liverpool as he was a great success.
6. Anthony Le Tallec
Anthony Le Tallec was one of the hottest young players on the planet as a youth. Voted second best player at the U-17 World Cup in 2001, which he won with France, Le Tallec was hailed as the next Zinedine Zidane. A potential superstar, Le Tallac had the vision, passing range, and finishing ability to take him to the very top. He signed for Liverpool aged 17 in 2001 but Houllier loaned him back to Le Harve until 2003. Liverpool paid a reported £3M (£8M by 2012 standards) for Le Tellac. Working in a weak youth team set-up under Gerrard Houllier, frustrated the young boy. Although Benitez revolutionized the youth team and reserve set-up at Melwood, it came too late for Le Tallec and with frustration getting the better of him he left the club in 2008. At Liverpool, Le Tellac spent much of his time on loan to various clubs, including a successful spell at Sunderland where he finished as their top scorer in 2005/06. He made 32 appearances for LFC scoring one goal between 2003/08. He now plays for Auxerre in France. Was his demise due to the number 13 or was Le Tellac just over-rated and sulky?!
Please add your comments below.
You can follow Tim Treacy on twitter @timtreacy