Three bit-part ‘winners’ lift lid on how Liverpool’s forgotten man Shaqiri feels

Meet football's fringe players. The squad member on the periphery of greatness.

Managers swear by these individuals, insisting success could not be achieved without them.

But inevitably their names become forgotten in the midst of time.

Who recalls Eamonn Deacy for example, one of just 14 players to figure in Aston Villa's 1980-81 title triumph?

The late Deacy should be a Villa legend but few have memories of his involvement.

After all, Ron Saunders' side included seven ever-presents and another two who played 39 and 40 games.

Deacy made just nine appearances, most of them off the bench but he'll go down in history as one of Villa's last title winning squad.

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Fast forward four decades and Liverpool's relentless march to glory and an era when most managers utilise 14 players every game.

Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Virgil Van Dyke, their names roll off the tongue and will be etched in Anfield folklore forever more.

But on the day Liverpool's long wait to be crowned champions of England is over, they'll be joined on the rostrum by team-mates whose joy will be tempered by the fact their role was less prominent.

Xherdan Shaqiri's season hasn't exactly gone to plan – just four starts this term and less than three hours of Premier League football.

How will he be feeling on that day of days?

“It's very strange,” said Shay Given, the former Newcastle and Manchester City keeper, now a coach at Derby.

He can empathise, having been a non-playing sub when City beat Stoke in 2011 to win the FA Cup.

After 354 appearances for the Magpies and over 100 caps for the Republic of Ireland, it was the first major trophy of Given's illustrious career.

“Let's face it, the vast majority of players win nothing throughout their career,” he says.

“Looking back, I'd have loved a few more winners' medals, particularly from my time at Newcastle.

“So I was delighted when City won the Cup and I finally had one.

“Obviously, I'd rather be on the pitch than on the bench but at the same time, being a sub was better than being in the stands or not at the final.

“And I did feel part of that triumph even though Joe Hart was keeping me out of the team.

“I trained with those lads every day, they were my mates and afterwards I was glad to be part of a very happy dressing room.

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“But yes, it probably would have felt even better had I played the 90 minutes.”

These days the Premier League hand out 40 medals which a club can distribute how they like providing any player who has figured in at least five games receives one.

It wasn't always the case. Twenty years ago, ten games was the minimum requirement.

Manchester United's long-time No. 2 keeper Raimond van der Gouw missed out on a medal one year so in 2001 with the title already in the bag, he approcached Sir Alex Ferguson asking if he could start the last four games to qualify.

And surprise, surprise, Fergie showed he's all heart by granting his request.

United team-mate Jonathan Greening, who went on to play for Middlesbrough and West Brom, reckons he's featured in numerous pub quizzes thanks to a unique achievement.

He asks: “Who is the only player to win a Champions League winners medal without kicking the ball in the competition?

“It's me. I was on the bench against Bayern Munich in our Treble year 1999 but never actually played in the Champions League.

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“I feel a bit of a fraud having the medal to be honest.

“But I never got one for winning the league or the FA Cup even though I was a regular member of the first team squad and played in a handful of games.

“I probably deserved one for those a lot more because I made a contribution which is more than I did in Europe.”

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