On this day, 20 years ago, Bruno Cheyrou left an indelible mark on the hearts of Liverpool fans, scoring a memorable winner against Chelsea. The echoes of that goal resonate with a sense of what could have been, as one member of the ECHO team reminisces about the day they believed Liverpool had signed the next Zinedine Zidane for a mere £4 million.
Gerard Houllier’s bold comparison of Cheyrou to Zidane caused a stir, but the Liverpool manager had a track record of spotting midfield talent, with successes like Gary McAllister and Dietmar Hamann under his belt. The Frenchman’s arrival from Lille heightened expectations, and his debut in a pre-season friendly against Lazio in July 2002 captured the imagination of Anfield.
Cheyrou’s performance that night, marked by assured touches, impressive control, and audacious attempts, left fans in awe. Chants of ‘Bruno, Bruno’ echoed around the stadium, and the collective belief that he was the missing piece of the jigsaw took hold. Despite a 1-0 defeat, the Frenchman’s display fueled optimism and dreams of a new French hero.
However, reality proved less romantic. Cheyrou struggled to find his form for Liverpool, with fleeting moments of brilliance punctuating a largely unfulfilled stint. Despite a brief resurgence in 2004, where he played a pivotal role in knocking Newcastle United out of the FA Cup and scored against Chelsea in the league, his impact waned.
Rafael Benitez’s arrival saw Cheyrou loaned out to Marseille and Bordeaux before a permanent move to Rennes in 2006. The once-promising narrative of the next Zidane fizzled out, leaving Liverpool fans to reminisce about that captivating night against Lazio and the unfulfilled potential of Bruno Cheyrou, the player who briefly looked like the next Zinedine Zidane in the famous red colors.