Former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger was forced to announce his retirement earlier this year at the age of just 31. The Danish defender was blighted by injuries throughout his career, and has revealed that the number of anti-inflammatories he was forced to take at Liverpool forced him to early retirement.
Ager left Liverpool in 2014 to return to his hometown club of Brondby, but in an interview in Denmark translated and published by The Guardian, Agger revealed a frightening moment that forced him to make the decision to end his career.
29 minutes into a game against FC Copenhagen, Agger was substituted and collapsed in the dressing room. Agger admits in the interview that the number of anti-inflammatories he took caused him long-term damage:
I know that full well, and it sucks, but I did stop it [in the end]. I am not gaining anything personally from saying this but I can only hope that other athletes do. It could be that others take a pill or two less.
Agger went on to provide some fascinating insight into his time at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers.
Agger was highly complimentary of Benitez - the man who took him to England - saying that he was "without a doubt, the best tactician I have played for", praising his influence during Liverpool's 2-1 win at the Camp Nou in 2007 in particular. Agger is far less well disposed to his successors Hodgson and Rodgers. Hodgson, in particular, was reviled on Merseyside, with his brief reign marked by poor results, bizarre public comments and a general failure by Hodgson to grasp the values of the club.
Hodgson totally failed to grasp that Liverpool fans were utterly disgusted by the fact that their club were perceived to be inferior to Manchester United, however much that may be borne out by results. Hodgson stoked his fan's ire with comments saying that he feared a Manchester United bid for Fernando Torres, who had been growing increasingly disaffected with life at Anfield.
Torres' performances had undoubtedly dipped, and his career had arguably been curtailed beyond redemption owing to a knee injury sustained against Benfica earlier that year, but Hodgson concocted an odd plan to try and rebuild his confidence, as relayed by Agger:
I completely lost my desire to come to work because his training sessions were really hard to get through. Not physically but mentally. It was the same and the same and the same. Day in and day out.
Often we had eight forwards playing against me and Martin Skrtel [apparently to let Fernando Torres score to regain his confidence]. Skrtel and I had a really hard training session as we were defending against eight with two but the eight players attacking were just faffing around. They had hardly run a kilometre and it was so uninspiring.
You know that scene in Mike Basset England Manager played a group of amateurs to boost confidence before the World Cup? It's literally that idea.
Elsewhere, Agger reveals how his relationship broke down with Brendan Rodgers. Tensions were fraught when Agger played against Southampton in 2013 carrying an injury - he was partly at fault for the goal Liverpool conceded to Dejan Lovren in a 1-0 defeat - and things came to a head following a 4-3 win against Swansea the following March. Liverpool won, but Rodgers criticised the defensive partnership of Agger and Martin Skrtel. Agger spoke up for himself:
Everyone was quiet but I stood up and said: ‘How can you stand there and say that when we are only doing what you have been going on about all week.’
Rodgers looked at me and muttered: ‘Whatever.’ I was substituted 12 minutes later.
Interesting stuff. There is lots more besides the above in the interview, which you can read on the Guardian website.
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