Revisiting the weird Liverpool XI that won the 2012 League Cup
Liverpool racked up a record ninth League Cup crown after a penalty shootout victory over Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea on Sunday. It ended a decade-long wait for another domestic cup trophy to return to Anfield.
Ten years ago, club legend Sir Kenny Dalglish was the man in the managerial hot seat as the Reds faced Cardiff City in the showpiece final at Wembley – Liverpool were also penalty-winners on that February afternoon.
Anthony Gerrard – cousin of iconic Liverpool captain at the time, Steven Gerrard – missed the decisive final kick of the shoot-out to end the Merseysiders’ six-year wait for a trophy.
Despite Dalglish overseeing an outfit that won the then-named Carling Cup under the Wembley arch, it’s fair to say the Scotsman didn’t have the quality of team Jurgen Klopp now has the luxury of leading.
Nevertheless – at all clubs – players who win silverware are always respected. Despite Dalglish going on to lose his job at the end of the 2011-12 season, his side gave him and the fans a day that remains fondly remembered. But what happened to the Liverpool players that defeated the Bluebirds in dramatic style?
GK: Pepe Reina
The Spain international – signed by compatriot Rafael Benitez from Villareal in 2005 – established himself as one of the greatest Liverpool goalkeepers of recent history in his eight-year stay at the club, before he moved to Napoli in 2013.
The 2012 triumph was one of two trophies Reina won on Merseyside – the other being the 2006 FA Cup. Despite not hitting previous heights with performances in his latter stages at Anfield, it’s believed Reina was reluctant to leave England.
Brendan Rodgers had his eye on a new goalkeeper – Simon Mignolet – it’s fair to say the Belgium international didn’t go on to become a fan-favourite.
Shipped on loan to Italy by Rodgers, any chance of an unlikely return for Reina was ended when the custodian wrote a goodbye letter to the Liverpool fans.
“He’s already written his (goodbye) letter, hasn’t he?” Rodgers said. “I was surprised at the letter when you are a loan player.”
The 39-year-old currently plays for Lazio after a brief spell on loan at Aston Villa in 2020.
⚽ Will @LFC ever get another keeper as good as Pepe Reina? 🙌
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOE_UK) April 11, 2018
RB: Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson was a player who split opinion within the Liverpool fanbase. When the England international arrived from Portsmouth 2009, he hit the ground running as the Reds brushed off fierce competition for his signature.
But performances undoubtedly dipped – some may jokingly note that he lost his powers when he ditched his dreadlocks.
Johnson made 200 appearances for the Reds before joining Stoke City following the expiration of his contract in 2015. He saw out the remaining years of his career with the Potters.
CB: Martin Skrtel
“Martin Skrtel is good at rattling the opposing centre-forward,” Paul Scholes once said.
This sums up the Slovakia international well – albeit he wasn’t just a bully of the defender. Skrtel weighed in with his fair share of goals, with his best return of seven in a season coming in the club’s title-challenging 2013-14 campaign.
The 2012 final win was the highlight of the centre-half’s time at Anfield; he scored a memorable equaliser in the second half of the match, and it was the only piece of silverware he lifted at Liverpool.
Skrtel is now in the twilight of his career, playing in his homeland for FC Spartak Trnava.
CB: Daniel Agger (Jamie Carragher, ’86)
Daniel Agger was plagued by injuries during his Liverpool career. But his ability to gracefully build up play from the back was a feature of his game which made the centre-back a long-standing fan-favourite.
Agger netted on his final Liverpool appearance in front of the Kop against Newcastle in 2014. He then joined his former club Brondby to see out the final two years of his career.
It wasn’t too often Jamie Carragher watched on from the bench in his trophy-packed stay at the club. But in the 2011-12 season, the no-nonsense defender only featured in 60% of Liverpool’s matches.
His lack of game-time continued to plummet under Rodgers, which persuaded him to retire to become a pundit on Sky Sports.
For all his admirable traits as a player, leadership is one which stood out from the rest.
“Jamie has been an absolute model professional.” Rodgers said soon after his Anfield arrival.
“I feel we are a quiet team, and maybe we’ve needed players who can organise and manage inside the game. You need a voice in your team, and you don’t get a louder voice than Carra’s!”
LB: Jose Enrique
The full-back signed from Newcastle in 2011 and spent five years at the club before joining Real Zaragoza in his native Spain.
Enrique had a health scare in 2018 when he was diagnosed with cancer – thankfully he has fully recovered.
CM: Steven Gerrard
A man who needs no introduction. Gerrard won every trophy on offer at Liverpool barring the Premier League title. His best chance of lifting the league crown arrived in 2013-14, but an infamous slip against Chelsea proved costly to aspirations.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what if that didn’t happen.” Gerrard said in 2015.
“Would things have been different? Would it have turned out different? Maybe it might have, I don’t know.”
But the good days eclipsed the bad – the Carling Cup win in 2012 was one of nine trophies the England international won at his boyhood club.
He is now looking to replicate his success as a manager. Winning the Scottish Premier League with Rangers represents a fantastic start to life in the dugout, but his credentials remain to be seen in the Premier League at Aston Villa’s helm.
CM: Charlie Adam
After impressing under Ian Holloway for Blackpool in their debut season in the Premier League, the Reds jumped at the opportunity to lure the midfielder away from the Tangerines in 2011.
“The first half we were battered, and we couldn’t handle Charlie Adam, his corner kicks are worth £10m,” the words of Sir Alex Ferguson after a standout performance against United.
Ferguson might have got this assessment wrong in hindsight. Adam failed to fit the bill at Anfield as his stay lasted just one season.
The 36-year-old now plays for Dundee United.
RW: Jordan Henderson (Craig Bellamy, ’58)
In 2022, if you said Jordan Henderson would be deployed on the wing, you would expect the response to be one of laughter. But Henderson was often a victim of his versatility in his early years at Anfield.
Fast forward a decade on from victory against Cardiff, the now Liverpool captain is regarded as a Liverpool legend. He has lifted the Premier League and Champions League – most notably.
It would come as no surprise to see the England international showing off his famous ‘trophy-lifting shuffle’ a few more times in the coming years.
Craig Bellamy was much less impactful at LFC than Henderson – but most are. His most documented moment at the club was an off-field incident involving a golf club and John Arne Risse.
“He (Bellamy) raised the club and swung again,” Risse said.
“This time he connected. Full force on my hip. I was so pumped with adrenaline that I didn’t feel the pain, but he hit me hard. It was an iron.”
An incident all sparked because Risse refused to sing on karaoke despite Bellamy’s calls for this to happen.
The 42-year-old left his role as assistant manager at Anderlecht last year amid his ongoing battle with depression.
AM: Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez was magic at Liverpool. But the fact the 2012 domestic cup win was the only silverware he lifted in his three years in the Premier League is the reason why he made the move to Barcelona.
Despite his well-publicised misdemeanours, Suarez has enjoyed a glistening career. He remains a top striker for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
Irreplaceable – as this lot show.
LW: Stewart Downing
Stewart Downing arrived at the Reds with a big reputation from Aston Villa. But he mostly failed to justify his £20 million transfer fee.
He eventually left to join West Ham in 2013, before spells with Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers.
ST: Andy Carroll (Dirk Kuyt, ‘103)
Andy Carroll proved to be an underwhelming buy for the Reds. Becoming the most expensive British signing in Premier League history following his £35 million transfer from Newcastle United, was a burden that appeared to weigh heavily on his shoulders.
Although, Carroll did have some happy moments in a Liverpool shirt. Many Liverpool fans argue he was worth the fee for his winning goal against Everton in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final alone.
Carroll – who has suffered with long term injuries throughout his career – now plays in the Championship for Steve Bruce’s West Bromwich Albion.
Dirk Kuyt was dubbed as the man for the big occasion. His goal which temporarily put the Reds ahead in the 2012 final saw him live up to this tag.
The Dutchman spent six years at the Reds – scoring in a Champions League final and netting a hat-trick against Man United in that time.
Kuyt announced his retirement in 2017. The curly-haired forward is a former player the Kop hold dearly.