Football: SAMI REMEMBERS THE TYNE OF HIS LIFE; NEWCASTLE v LIVERPOOL, 2pm.
SAMI HYYPIA admits that Newcastle helped shape his career - but he won't be handing out any thank-you's at St James' Park today.
Liverpool's commanding centre-half had his first taste of English football on Tyneside, when he was aged just 20.
And as Liverpool prepare for the demanding task at Newcastle, Hyypia revealed: "They certainy helped my career. I had a two-week trial in 1995 under Kevin Keegan and it gave me an insight into English football.
"I was a young player in Finland and I didn't really expect it to lead to anything. I just went for the experience, but it was good experience and I enjoyed my time there.
"It helped me a lot at the time to see a big English club at close hand and I always look forward to going back."
But Hyypia (right) admits this match might not be the most comfortable of occasions, even though his Newcastle association helped whet his appetite for English football.
And the reason he is anticipating a rough ride is because of the presence in the Newcastle side of Alan Shearer.
The Liverpool stopper says of Newcastle's former England skipper (top): "I know he will give me a battle. Shearer is always a threat. He is still one of the best strikers around.
"He has had his injury problems, but he is over them now and he's back in form, too."
Hyypia added: "We drew 2-2 at Newcastle two seasons ago and Shearer scored one of their goals. Last season was worse - we lost 2-1. So we need to improve on those results this time."
But Hyypia believes Liverpool are getting back to their best defensively.
He explained: "We've just had three successive clean sheets against Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham and Dynamo Kiev.
"That is encouraging for us. Clean sheets bring confidence to a team, even though you are always slightly worried when your lead is only 1-0.
"You are concerned it isn't going to be enough. That was the case against Tottenham and Kiev, but we won both those matches.
"And against Kiev our goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, hardly had a save to make. That is an indication that we are defending well again."
Meanwhile Newcastle boss Bobby Robson goes into today's showdown confident that his side are catching up with Gerard Houllier's outfit.
Robson has written off last term's disappointing 11th-place finish as a wasted season, but insists Newcastle's progress is now on the same track as Liverpool's.
Robson predicts that viewers will see another classic to match the two famous 4-3 encounters between the clubs.
"I think there are going to be quite a few goals in the game," predicted Robson. "We might not get a 4-3 scoreline, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were half a dozen goals."
Last season: Newcastle 2 Liverpool 1
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 30, 2001|
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