Lucas Leiva hails Merseyside Derby as "most important game of the year"

Lucas Leiva hails Merseyside Derby as "most important game of the year"

The Brazilian speaks about what the derby means to him ahead of the first clash between the two sides on Monday.

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Vishal Shah

Liverpool travel to Goodison Park on Monday evening, where they face Everton in the first Merseyside Derby of the season.

Ahead of the clash, Lucas Leiva has had his say on what the derby means to him.

The Brazilian has been at the club for nine years and is the club's longest-serving player in the current squad, so has no doubt about the significance of this match.

"I think it’s probably the most important game of the year," he said.

"Of course, you can progress to finals in the cup competitions, but when the fixtures are announced in the summer you always look for derby day and we know how much it means to the fans."

Gerrard's and Carragher’s influence was strong

The 29-year-old has featured in 15 derby’s, since joining the Reds back in 2007 and says that the determination Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher had of beating the Toffees was clear.

Explaining that "with every derby I feel more emotion", Lucas recalled how Gerrard and Carragher were "different" each time the game came round, adding that "Carra couldn't stay quiet!"

A memorable derby debut

Lucas’ first Merseyside Derby caught the attentions of Liverpool fans when he was brought on by Rafa Benitez, for captain Gerrard, when the score was tied at 1-1 back in 2007.

However, the Brazilian influenced the game hugely by winning an injury time penalty, when his goal bound shot was handled on the line by Phil Neville, which then allowed Dirk Kuyt the chance to score the winning goal.

Speaking about replacing Gerrard, the Brazilian said that "I didn't think that much about who I was replacing, I was just so excited."

Lucas said that he "didn't realise just how much pressure was on me" and went on to reveal that "it probably helped me" given that replacing Gerrard for the new-boy was a risky choice from Benitez.

"I think that save [by Neville] told me just how difficult my Liverpool journey would be! But I can’t complain," he joked.

 

Speaking on the crunch match on Monday, he finished off by saying; "There are no favourites in the derby, it’s a different game from any other, and comes down to who wants it more. Normally it’s decided by the small details."

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