It has been 10 years since Liverpool last visited Hong Kong, 2017 Hong Kong will see Liverpool visiting not only once but twice, starting off with ‘LFC World’ presented by Standard Chartered, with Liverpool legends Jason McAteer, Patrik Berger, and Champions League heroes Luis Garcia, Sami Hyypiä and Vladimír Šmicer, greeting fans and signing autographs as part of the tour.
Photo: Kobe Mok/9½
Having previously toured with Liverpool in other Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia, speaking to 9½, Luis Garcia is thankful of the warm reception he is getting from fans.
“I love coming to here [Hong Kong], it’s a special city”, he said.
“I love the food, I love the people, I love to walk around and see all the lights at night, amazing view from everywhere you go. So every time people ask me to come Hong Kong, I’m very happy to. Every time I come here, I enjoy my time.”
Despite not winning the Premier League for more than 20 years, Liverpool has more than 700 million fans worldwide, with more than half of them is based in Asia. The club’s new managing director Billy Hogan has recently stressed the importance of the Asia market, and said it is actively seeking e-commerce partnerships in China. According a recent research by digital firm Mailman Group, Liverpool ranked #3 in digital presence, ahead of the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
China’s increasing attention to football not only is a positive news to Liverpool, but also its domestic league. The Chinese Super League is growing at an enormous pace, having brought in a number of marquee veterans. Garcia, who has come out of retirement once previously, will try to resist the temptation.
“I think it’s a fantastic league”, he said. But “when I decided to retire, the Chinese league hasn’t started [signing big names]”.
On the way its splashing cash and breaking transfer fee records, Garcia thinks it’s just “a way of trying to raise its par”.
When asked about Liverpool’s current form, Garcia stresses even top teams go through ups and downs, and that the target remains the same.
“I think all teams have ups and downs. You can see right now in Spain, with Barcelona and Real Madrid, two weeks ago Barcelona were far away from league title race”, he said.
“All teams will go going to go through this in a season. And maybe Liverpool is having it now. Most important [thing] is how to react to the situation.”
“Right now I’m sure Jurgen Klopp is trying to up the level of the team at this moment. Again the target has to be the same, and that is to try to get to top four at the end of the season.”
Since leaving Liverpool in 2007, Garcia remained a fan favourite with his goals against Chelsea, Juventus still fresh in fans’ memories. Having played with top players like Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, he said it would be hard to compare the team he played with and the current Liverpool side.
“Football has changed, [compare to] the players I played with was ten years ago. It’s faster right now”, he said.
“The league is totally different, a lot more coaches, different coaches, have arrived to the Premier League, so you cannot compare. But what I can tell you is that, the level of the quality of Liverpool players right now is very high.”
Since retiring from playing, Garcia has been keeping up his fitness, showing off his workout videos on Instagram, and Garcia is relishing chance at revenge in the upcoming rematch with Real Madrid legends at Anfield.
On retirement life and being an ambassador for Liverpool, he said, “I’m doing this for Barcelona and Liverpool in a lot of events. I’m happy and I enjoy bringing a piece of Liverpool to every country I go.”
LFC World will continue at City Plaza, Hong Kong throughout the week, Liverpool fans will have the opportunity to meet with the legends at the following times. For more details, click here.