Former Liverpool midfielder Sammy Lee says that what Liverpool achieved on Tuesday night "doesn’t get any better". Sammy left the Liverpool coaching staff last summer to take up a position with the FA. The Reds legend is in Italy at the moment, with the England under 17 team.
Sammy was speaking to the official FA web-site, and said, "It doesn’t get any better – the players all performed brilliantly I am just so pleased for all the players who deserve this for all the hard work they’ve put in."
Although obviously happier to see Liverpool go through, Sammy was pleased that regardless of the result there would be an English team playing in Istanbul: "It was great seeing two English sides play in the semi, knowing we would definitely have a side in the final. The quality that was displayed by both teams was excellent and can only bode well for the future of English football."
Sammy has two European Cup winners medals himself, from 1981 and 1984 when Liverpool won the title for their third and fourth times. As a member of Liverpool’s playing staff during those glorious years, the atmosphere didn’t surprise him: "I watched the match here in Italy and what an atmosphere it was at Anfield. The fans are great on those big European nights and that was up there with the best games from the ’70s and ’80s."
Lee didn’t leave because of the arrival of Rafa Benitez, he left to take up a role he relished for the FA. After playing for a short time himself in Spain, he is fluent in Spanish and Rick Parry had hoped he’d stay on to help out. Sammy respects Liverpool’s new manager and is impressed with their performances in Europe: "I actually fancied them from the very start of the competition. They have a good manager in Rafa Benitez and they’ve got that defensive platform from which all good sides are built. They are well suited to European competition and you don’t knock out Juventus and Chelsea unless you are a good side."
Two players that Sammy was particularly pleased with were Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. Like Lee, both players are local lads, joining Liverpool at an early age. Lee spent eleven years on the Anfield coaching staff, joining in 1993 – so he’s known the two since they were youngsters: "Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were fantastic. They are the leaders of the team on the pitch and both played brilliantly. Steven was influential in the midfield and Jamie was an inspiration at the back – he’s had an incredible season and deserves this chance."
Can Liverpool beat the Italians in Turkey? Lee says, "Milan will be difficult but I think Liverpool can go to the final and do it – I see no reason why not."