Is Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia on a long road to potential management at Anfield?
Currently, it’s just a pipedream for the big Fin, who was a firm fans’ favourite on Merseyside during his ten-year spell with the Reds.
Hyypia joined Liverpool in 1999 after spending the early part of his career with MyPa and Willem II, and left for Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen three years ago after making a total of 460 competitive appearances for the Premier League outfit.
Rafael Benitez offered the 105-cap international the opportunity to take up a coaching role with the club, but he instead signed a pre-contract agreement with the German side to prolong his playing career.
In the summer of 2010, wide-ranging reports in England suggested Roy Hodgson was keen to bring Hyypia back to the club, but failed in his efforts, as a fee could not be agreed for a one-year deal.
"I can see them always being part of the club. In the same way I'm a bit disappointed that my attempts to bring Sami Hyypia back failed,” noted the current England boss.
Leverkusen would confirm that the player wanted to move back to Liverpool, but needed him to stay as an integral part of the club’s defence.
"Sami came to us asking if there would be any chance to return to Liverpool. We had an open discussion. Sami accepted straight away that we were desperate to keep him here,” revealed club executive Wolfgang Holzhauser.
He stayed at the BayArena for another year as a player, announcing his plans to move into coaching and management at the end of the 2010/11 season.
Hyypia followed through with his promise, joining the coaching staff under Robin Dutt in Germany and also with the Finnish national side under Mixu Paatelainen.
And, less than a season after making the transition, Hyypia has been given his first crack of the whip at the helm, taking over from the departed Dutt at Leverkusen.
Given six games to impress as caretaker, Hyypia oversaw four wins and two draws in his six games as manager, helping the Werkself to a fifth-place finish in the Bundesliga and a trip to the Europa League next season.
There is little doubt that the Liverpool job would be a dream for Hyypia, a boyhood Reds fan who achieved his dream of playing for the club.
To manage on Merseyside would be the next step, albeit a very big one, and whilst fans would love to see Hyypia back at the club, more experience might be required before the top job could be offered to the former top defender.
Hyypia’s promotion in Germany comes at a time when question marks over Liverpool’s own management structure remain in place. Whilst Kenny Dalglish’s appointment was popular last January, it hasn’t delivered results.
The Scot won silverware in the form of the League Cup, but a poor league finish (below Everton) and an FA Cup final defeat have left many scratching their heads as to what went wrong this season. Dalglish’s big-spending summer did not deliver the expected results.
He is likely to maintain his position as manager for next season though, despite rumours that Roberto Martinez could be offered the job. Long-term however, it might be best for ‘King Kenny’ to take his place upstairs rather than in the dugout.
If that happens in a year, would Hyypia be ready? Much depends on his spell in charge of Leverkusen, and Liverpool fans should be watching closely to see how things pan out this season.
If the Fin delivers success, breaking the Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund power struggle, then he’ll be the name on everyone’s lips. Stan Collymore has already touted him as one to watch on Twitter.
If things don’t go to plan, then the 38-year-old will be back at square one, and a backroom role away from the big decisions at a top club.
One thing is for certain – it’s going to be a massive 12 months for Hyypia. Liverpool fans will be watching - and hoping - for results.