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Martin Skrtel
Martin Skrtel
Personal information
Date of Birth

15 December 1984

Place of Birth

Handlová, Czechoslovakia

Height

1.91 m (6'3")

Position

Defender

Liverpool statistics
Squad no.

37

Years

2008-

Appearances

199

Goals

9

Martin Škrtel (born 15 December 1984) is a Slovakian international footballer, currently playing as a defender for Liverpool. He was signed in January 2008 by then-manager Rafael Benitez for what was at the time a record fee for a defender for the club. He has spent most of his career at Anfield as a first-choice centre back, initially partnering Jamie Carragher but more recently striking up an exciting partnership with Daniel Agger. In 2012, the Liverpool fans voted Skrtel the Standard Chartered Player of the Season for 2011-12.

Liverpool career

Skrtel was signed by Liverpool on 11 January 2008 from Zenit St. Petersburg for a fee of £6,500,000. This made Skrtel the most expensive defender in Liverpool's history, surpassing the £6,000,000 spent on Daniel Agger two years prior, however Glen Johnson now holds the record having signed for £17,000,000 in 2009. Upon signing, manager Rafael Benitez said of Skrtel: "He is aggressive, quick, is good in the air and I think he's a very good player for the future and also for the present. He is very competitive, but his mentality for me is very good." Skrtel was presented with the number 37 shirt which he has worn ever since.

His debut came as a 70th minute substitute against Aston Villa on 21 January 2008, during which he gave an unassured and nervous-looking performance. Five days later, Skrtel played in Liverpool's FA Cup tie against non-league minnows Havant & Waterlooville and continued to look unsure of himself. He clumsily conceded a corner from which Havant went 1-0 up and later scored an own goal to put Havant 2-1 up. This early season form concerned Liverpool fans, however his form quickly picked up and he appeared in 18 of the remaining 23 matches of the 2007-08 season. He particularly impressed in an away 0-0 draw at Chelsea on 10 February, with the Liverpool fans voting him the man of the match, and he again claimed the award for his performance in Liverpool's 1-0 win in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield on 30 March.

Skrtel carried on his good form into the 2008-09 season, and he kept Daniel Agger out of the starting XI as Rafa Benitez's preferred central defence partner to Jamie Carragher. However Skrtel's season was disrupted by injury on 5 October 2008 when he ruptured his posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a game against Man City. The injury sidelined Skrtel for two months and allowed Agger to retake his place in the team. When Skrtel returned from injury however, he came back into the team and largely impressed as he appeared in the majority of games for the remainder of the season. He made his 50th appearance in a Red shirt against Tottenham in a League game at Anfield on 24 May 2009.

Skrtel again had to suffer an injury-hit season in 2009-10, however he did score his first Liverpool goal on 21 November 2009 against Man City in a 2-2 draw, after turning in a Steven Gerrard free kick from close range. His injury came on 25 February 2010 in a 3-1 victory over Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League when he broke a metatarsal in his right foot. The injury again sidelined Skrtel for two months as he finished the season having played only 29 of Liverpool's 56 matches. Despite this, Skrtel signed a contract extension on 18 August 2010, committing himself to Liverpool until 2014.

Although Skrtel had already established himself as one of Liverpool's key defenders in the previous seasons, the 2010-11 season was in many ways a breakthrough campaign for him. In this season, Skrtel fully established himself as a leading player for the side as he played every minute of all 38 of Liverpool's League games. Skrtel was one of only two outfield players in the Premier League to achieve this feat- the other being Everton's Leighton Baines. New manager Roy Hodgson firmly established Skrtel and Carragher as his first-choice centre back pairing, again displacing Daniel Agger to the bench. He scored his second goal in a Liverpool shirt against Tottenham in a 2-1 loss on 28 November 2010, as he struck a rebound from his own header. Unfortunately however Skrtel also scored an own goal in the match. On 6 December 2010, Skrtel made his 100th Liverpool appearance, against the side whom he had made his Liverpool debut against- Aston Villa. On his 26th birthday- 15 December 2010- Skrtel was given the honour of captaining Liverpool in their Europa League match against FC Utrecht at Anfield which finished 0-0. When Hodgson was replaced as manager by Kenny Dalglish in January 2011, Skrtel retained his place in the team and scored his third Liverpool goal on 2 April 2011 against West Brom- at the time being managed by former boss Roy Hodgson. Skrtel scored with a header from a Raul Meireles corner to put his side 1-0 up, although the matched finished 2-1 to West Brom.

In the 2011-12 season, Skrtel initially began as Kenny Dalglish's third-choice centre back as Agger and Carragher were preferred in the starting XI. He quickly found himself back in the team however in an unfamiliar right back role, as injury forced both Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly to the sidelines. He was brought on for the injured Kelly on 27 August 2011 in a game against Bolton and impressed in his new role, even scoring his fourth Liverpool goal with a header from a Charlie Adam corner. On 18 September 2011 in a game against Tottenham however, Skrtel- still at right back- was given a torrid time by Spurs winger Gareth Bale. Skrtel was sent off for two bookable offences- both for fouls on Bale- after 60 minutes as Skrtel failed to cope with Bale's pace. In this game however Daniel Agger suffered a rib injury which brought Skrtel back into his preferred centre back role for the following games. When Agger returned from injury, Dalglish brought him back into the side ahead of Jamie Carragher with Skrtel and Agger forming a new first-choice centre back partnership. The partnership proved to be a revelation, with the two players arguably being Liverpool's star performers as the Reds kept themselves in contention for Champions League qualification going into the new year, with one of the best defensive records in the League. On 29 October 2011, both Skrtel and Agger made their 100th League appearance for Liverpool in a 2-0 win against West Brom. On 18 December 2011, Skrtel scored his fifth Liverpool goal with a header from a Craig Bellamy corner in a 2-0 away win at Aston Villa. Skrtel made his 150th Liverpool appearance in all competitions in an away 1-0 victory against Man City in the League Cup semi final on 11 January 2012. Skrtel scored his sixth Liverpool goal in a 6-1 FA Cup win over Brighton on 19 February 2012 with a header from a Steven Gerrard corner.

On 26 February 2012, Skrtel won his first major honour with Liverpool after a starring role in Liverpool's penalty shootout win over Cardiff in the 2012 League Cup Final. With Liverpool trailing 1-0 from the first half, Skrtel scored Liverpool's equalising goal when he reacted quickest to stab home a loose ball from a Stewart Downing corner. This goal made Skrtel the first Liverpool player to score at Wembley since Steve McManaman in the 1995 League Cup Final. Skrtel went from strength to strength as the season went on as his confidence and defensive prowess grew with his partnership with Agger. He was given the captain's armband for the first time in the League on 10 April 2012 as Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at Ewood Park. Although Liverpool's League campaign was ultimately a disappointing one, both Skrtel and Agger received many plaudits for their efforts. This culminated in Skrtel being voted the Standard Chartered Player of the Season by the Liverpool fans. He tallied 44% of the vote, beating Luis Suarez into second with 33% and Agger into third with 4%. Upon winning the award, Skrtel said: "It's a great feeling. It's my first big award at Liverpool and I'm very happy about it. I think it was my best season since I came to Liverpool and I'm happy with my performances. I hope I will carry on in this way."

Skrtel's form has seen him recognised as one of Europe's leading central defenders, and in the summer of 2012, speculation began to mount that Skrtel was attracting the attentions of clubs such as Premier League champions Manchester City. He committed his future to Liverpool however on 20 August 2012 by signing a new long-term contract at Anfield, reportedly tying him down to the Reds until 2016.

On 26 August 2012, Skrtel netted Liverpool's first League goal of the 2012-13 season with a powerful header from a Steven Gerrard corner in a home tie against defending champions, Manchester City. Skrtel however- with Liverpool leading 2-1- played a short backpass to Pepe Reina in the second half that allowed City striker Carlos Tevez to net an equaliser and ultimately cost Liverpool three points. Skrtel netted his second goal of the season on 22 December 2012, opening the scoring in the 4-0 victory over Fulham with an impressive half-volley after the ball fell to him from a corner.

Playing style

Skrtel is a traditional centre back, with former manager Rafael Benitez comparing him in style to Jamie Carragher. He has a full-bodied, no-nonsense approach to tackling and has excellent aerial ability. As time has passed however, Skrtel has begun to display a greater technical ability and can now often be seen playing the ball from the back, rather than opting for long ball clearances. He will often venture into the opposition half to contribute to attacking play, and has shown that he has a skillful touch with the ball. Over the seasons however, Skrtel has on occasion looked prone to nervousness, and tends to perform better when playing alongside someone with more natural leadership and organisational qualities, such as Carragher or Daniel Agger.

Honours

Liverpool

  • League Cup: 1 (2012)

Individual

  • Standard Chartered Player of the Season: 2011-12
  • Standard Chartered Player of the Month: 1 (February 2012)

Stats

Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
2007-08 14 0 1 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 20 0
2008-09 21 0 2 0 0 0 7 0 0 0 30 0
2009-10 19 1 2 0 2 0 6 0 0 0 29 1
2010-11 38 2 1 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 49 2
2011-12 34 2 5 1 6 1 0 0 0 0 45 4
2012-13 20 2 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 26 2
Total 146 7 11 1 8 1 34 0 0 0 199 9

External links


Liverpool F.C. – current squad
1. Alisson • 3. Fabinho • 4. van Dijk • 5. Wijnaldum • 6. Lovren • 7. Milner • 8. Keita • 9. Firmino • 10. Mane
11. Salah • 12. Gomez • 13. Adrian • 14. Henderson (c) • 15. Oxlade-Chamberlain • 16. Grujic • 18. Minamino
20. Lallana • 22. Lonergan • 23. Shaqiri • 24. Brewster • 26. Robertson • 27. Origi • 32. Matip • 47. Phillips • 48. Jones
51. Hoever • 53. Ejaria • 54. Ojo • 55. Kane • 58. Woodburn • 59. Wilson • 62. Kelleher • 66. Alexander-Arnold
67. Elliott • 70. Larouci • 72. van den Berg • 76. Williams • GK Karius • MF Allan • FW Awoniyi

Manager: Klopp

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