Dietmar Hamann or Didi was known as ‘The Kaiser’ during his time at the helm of Liverpool’s central midfield. The German international was signed for Liverpool by Gerard Houllier in July 1999 for £8 million from Newcastle United. His seven year career at Liverpool saw him make 191 appearances, scoring 8 goals. He was part of Houllier’s treble winning side of 2001, gaining UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup medals.
A defensive midfielder, Hamann was a mainstay for Liverpool and a key player. He is renowned as a big game player, someone who was able to step up to the mark in important fixtures. He is probably most loved by the Kop for his game-changing substitute appearance in the Istanbul Champions League Final of 2005. 3-0 down to AC Milan at half-time and in the midst of the crisis, Rafa Benitez turned to the Kaiser’s experience and brought him on for the flagging Steve Finnan. Immediately, Didi impacted the game, and shored up the midfield area, allowing Steven Gerrard to move on up the pitch and initiate the goals needed for our comeback. He was the catalyst for the turnaround and in a demonstration of bravery, did all this with a broken toe. His experience was called for after the game finished in extra time, a 3-3 draw. With his broken foot he stepped up to take the first penalty and with calm German composure, slotted the ball into the back of the net, to encourage his teammates to go onto victory, which of course they did.
A year later, in the FA Cup final in Cardiff, against West Ham, Hamann repeated his final heroics, again coming on in the second half, and again shoring up the midfield to get us into a winnable position.
Didi’s big match show-outs perhaps were so impressive due to his international experience. He played for Germany in the 2002 World Cup Final, a game they lost 2-0 to Brazil. He was only the third Liverpool player to have ever graced the World Cup Final (others being Roger Hunt and Karl-Heinz Riedle)
Hamann moved on from Liverpool in June 2006, initially signing for Bolton but with a late change of heart instead opting for Manchester City. He played there until his contract expired in 2009.
After his playing career ended he had spells in management with Milton Keynes Dons and Stockport County. He has stated that ‘it would be a dream come true’ to manage Liverpool one day. In addition to his managerial roles he has built up a presence as a pundit on key football shows in Ireland and the UK.
Dietmar Hamann can go down as probably the best loved foreign, adopted-Scouser since Jan Molby.
Didi has written a book about his time on Merseyside: