For the past two years, Liverpool have been setting the pace in world football.
But rewind 25 years, they were more interested in setting the pace on the dance floor – or at least that’s what it seemed like to the outside world.
The 1990’s was a new era for English football as the birth of the Premier League saw players’ wages soar.
With that came swathes of media attention, turning footballers into high-profile celebrities.
Forget 90’s pop culture icons the Spice Girls, in the sporting world it was all about the Spice Boys, a few Liverpool players, including the likes of Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman, who couldn’t help but get themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The term of the Spice Boys was originally coined after unfounded rumours that Liverpool’s star striker Robbie Fowler was dating Baby Spice, Emma Bunton, in the mid 90’s.
What followed could never have been predicted – not least by manager Roy Evans, who watched on as his players turned up at the 1996 FA Cup final in matching cream Armani suits after making the journey to Wembley on a bus sponsored by London’s Emporium nightclub.
It was during this era that legendary goalkeeper David James earned the nickname “Calamity James”, and it certainly didn’t help that he once missed a training session to due to modelling commitments with Armani in Milan.
The term is thought to have started when a few of the players started flying from Manchester to London after games to take in Soho’s club scene, including regular haunts like Browns, Chinawhite, Ten Rooms and the Emporium.
It has also been admitted that Dominic Matteo and Neil Ruddock enjoyed 10am champagne breakfasts, perhaps unsurprising given his motto of “win or lose, first on the booze”.
Another low moment for Liverpool’s underachieving star boys was Robbie Williams’ appearances on the team bus amid his break up from Take That when he had a tumultuous personal life.
As Spice Boys member John Scales recounted to the Daily Telegraph: “Robbie was a great lad and we had some laughs. But why was he there on match days?" Scales told.
"He was going through his exit from Take That. His drink and drugs problems were well known. How can you have someone in that situation on the coach going to games? Why the hell was it allowed to happen?
"It fuelled the whole Spice Boy thing. We all hated the tag but the truth always hurts, doesn’t it?
"I know I could have done more to avoid it. All the boys could have."
Fellow member Jason McAteer has defended the reputation of the group though, insisting that Liverpool were not the only team who enjoyed a drink together.
"The fact is we were a very professional bunch of lads and didn't deserve the reputation that the nickname gave us," the former midfielder told the Daily Mirror.
"We got it because people saw us as under-achievers who liked to go out.
"There was a social culture in football at the time. We were doing nothing more than the players at Arsenal or Manchester United."
It didn’t take long for the Spice boys to fizzle out under the new solo management of Gerard Houllier.
Many of the players were either sold on or told to improve by the late Frenchman, who managed to bring success back to Anfield shortly after.
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