SINGAPORE — Liverpool and Manchester United may be household names among football fans all over the world, but their players often had no idea how huge the clubs’ global fan bases are.
Former Liverpool defender Jason McAteer admitted as much during a media conference at The Exchange on Thursday (14 November) for the Battle of the Reds legends event, which will be held at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The 48-year-old Irishman, himself a lifelong Reds fan, had represented the Merseyside club 139 times from 1995 to 1999. And he said that it was only after retiring from football, when he joined the Liverpool Legends team, that he realised just how massive the global support is.
“As footballers, we were so focused on our careers, and we didn’t understand how big Liverpool’s brand, history and legacy is until we actually leave the club and finish our careers,” he said.
“Being in the Legends set-up, going to every part of the world to meet the fans, it is only then that I realise how big the Liverpool family really is. It’s very humbling, and it really motivates you to connect with the fans.”
Rivalry remains intense
And the rivalries among clubs remain intense, even among the retired footballers. This Battle of the Reds edition will see one of the fiercest, as Liverpool will renew hostilities with Man United in their never-ending quest to be known as England’s greatest football club.
“The rivalry is fiery,” quipped former Man United defender Wes Brown. “Form goes out of the book whenever we play Liverpool. Everyone is fired up and it was definitely the match we look out for whenever a new season arrived.”
Singapore Reds taking part too
Besides the two rival clubs, there is also the Singapore Reds team – featuring past Lions stalwarts such as Aleksandar Duric, Indra Sahdan Daud and Fandi Ahmad – who will try to spring a surprise win or two against the two English clubs.
There will be three 40-minute matches on Saturday: Liverpool Reds vs Singapore Reds, Manchester Reds v Singapore Reds, and the Liverpool Reds v Manchester Reds finale.
Here are the team line-ups:
Liverpool Reds – Goalkeeper: David James. Defenders: Bjorn Tore Kvarme, Jason McAteer, Mark Wright, John Arne Riise, Fabio Aurelio, Phil Babb. Midfielders: John Durnin, Luis Garcia, Vladimir Smicer, Dietmar Hamann, Don Hutchison, David Thompson. Forwards: Paul Walsh, Emile Heskey.
Manchester Reds – Goalkeeper: Paul Rachubka. Defenders: Lee Martin, Ronny Johnsen, Wes Brown, Russell Beardsmore, Michael Gray. Midfielders: Keith Gillespie, Jesper Olsen, Jonathan Greening, Clayton Blackmore, Ben Thornley, Eric Djemba-Djemba. Forwards: Dwight Yorke, Erik Nevland, Danny Webber, Dimitar Berbatov, Teddy Sheringham.
Singapore Reds – Goalkeeper: Rezal Hassan, Lionel Lewis. Defenders: Ali Imran Lomri, E. Manimohan, Zulkarnaen Zainal. Midfielders: Fahmie Abdullah, Gusta Guzarishah, Malek Awab, Steven Tan, Noor Ali, Syed Faruk, Azhar Baksin. Forwards: Fandi Ahmad, Indra Sahdan Daud, Aleksandar Duric, Noh Alam Shah, Dalis Supait.
Tickets to the Battle of the Reds 2019 start from $20 and are available at the Sports Hub website. Family packages (two adults and two children below the age of 12) are at $120 and VIP packages are at $250. For more information, please visit here.
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