Imagine a squad comprising of Petr Cech, Gerard Pique, John Terry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Forlan, all during their growing stages. That might sound a little weird to you all, but let me tell you that this could well have been the Liverpool line-up had the Reds succeeded in acquiring all of them.
Former Liverpool scout, Alex Miller – who served Liverpool for nine years from 1999 to 2008 – recently spoke to ESPN in a candid interview and revealed what all he had planned for the Reds during his tenure at Anfield. Miller started his Anfield career as Director of Scouting under Gérard Houllier in 1999, but when Rafa Benitez was appointed – in 2004 – a complete overhaul in the scouting department followed which lead to Miller being named as the first-team coach, under whom the Reds won the UEFA Champions League as well as the FA Cup.
It has been almost a decade now since Miller left Liverpool and recalling his tenure with the Reds, he revealed how he tried signing Gerard Pique from Barcelona during his young age, but missed out on his target as Manchester United had already struck a deal. Miller then added that he also referred Cristiano Ronaldo to the Liverpool hierarchy after watching him at a youth tournament. However, United acted swift and snapped him up.
Ronaldo moved to Manchester United and went on to win a Premier League as well as the Champions League before moving to Real Madrid. Since leaving Manchester United, Ronaldo and Pique have six Champions League titles between them.
“I looked at Gerard Pique and I tried to get him,” Miller revealed. “The Spanish delegation he was with at a youth tournament, I think it was his grandfather who was the delegate for the Spanish federation. Well he wouldn’t give me permission because I think Man United were already in at that point.
“I brought Cristiano Ronaldo [suggested to Liverpool as a signing]. That’s water under the bridge, [but] I recommended him and saw him at a youth tournament.”
Talking further, Miller also lifted the lid on other targets and mention that the likes of John Terry and Petr Cech were his targets as well, although at different times. The Scot explained how he got the opportunity to talk to John Terry and tell him that Houllier wants to talk to him. Adding further, Miller said that Houllier went on to speak with his agent, but any deal failed to come to fruition as the defender went to stay at Stamford Bridge for the following 14 years.
“I tried to get John Terry to come,” the Scot said. “It was 2003 when Chelsea beat Liverpool for the last place in the Champions League.
“It went to the final day and they beat us at Stamford Bridge. After the game I went to speak to John Terry to try and get him. How I did it was, I went up to him in the corridor and asked him for his autograph. He said yes. As he was signing it I said: ‘Could you put your mobile phone number? Gerard Houllier would like to talk to you’.
“He put his agent’s number and said to talk to him. Gerard Houllier spoke to his agent on the bus. I think he just used us to get more money out of Chelsea.”
Another player on his lookout was the towering stopper, Petr Cech. Cech – the then Czech Republic U20 international – was with Chmel Blsany at that time and Miller seemed a bit uncertain mainly because Liverpool were trying to sign Chris Kirkland. The one-time capped England international was confirmed as Liverpool player in 2001, but thanks to his injury issues, he majorly served the club as an understudy of the first choice.
“I also had Petr Cech, but at that moment in time we were trying to sign Chris Kirkland. I went to a game to watch Milan Baros and Petr Cech was making his debut.
“I then went to Argentina, I think it was in 2001, the Under-20 World Cup. You could have got him for a song. He was with Chmel Blsany and then he moved to Sparta Prague and then he moved to France.”
Adding further to it, Miller admitted that he turned down the chance of signing Diego Forlan even before Manchester United had made an offer for the Uruguayan. The decision literally backfired as the striker – after moving to Manchester United in 2002 – went on to score twice at Anfield for the Devils and proved out to be the clincher in the 2010 UEFA Europa League campaign for Atletico Madrid, playing a pivotal role in the Reds’ elimination from the tournament in the semi-final.
“Diego Forlan, I turned him down before United even got to him. At the final hour when United were going to sign him, Gerard Houllier asked me whether I was sure. I was positive he would be more suited to Spain or Italy.”
Seems like Liverpool missed a lot of targets and had we had acquired the aforementioned names, we could have had won the league in the Premier League era.