Liverpool legends make Aleksandar Duric's testimonial special

On a rainy evening, nearly 7,500 spectators -- most of them Liverpool fans -- waved banners, danced and sang the Premier League club's iconic anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.

The occasion was the testimonial game of retiring Singapore striker Aleksander Duric. He was part of the Singapore Masters team which took on a Liverpool Masters side comprising a glittering array of former legends of the English club which has won 18 league titles and five elite European titles in their glorious history.

In the competitive world of modern sport, occasions such as these when the actual result takes a backseat are few and far between. The crowd savoured every moment of action and would have been just as vociferous if the evening had witnessed a reversal of the actual scoreline -- a 3-1 win for the Liverpool Masters.

Striker Emile Heskey and attacking midfielder Jari Litmanen scored for the victors. Singapore defender Lim Tong Hai added an own goal to complete the tally. Tampines Rovers coach and midfielder Rafi Ali pulled one back for the home team late in the second half.

Duric, who was named man of the match, was a powerful influence right through the game troubling the Liverpool defenders and testing the goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek. The crowd roared whenever he ran with the ball. So they did when another Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad was involved in the action.

For the crowd, though, this was an opportunity to witness a glittering array of former Liverpool stars turning back the clock. Robbie Fowler was the second striker behind Heskey who also drifted wide on the right. Litmanen played in front of the central midfield trio comprising Steve McManaman and Patrick Berger.

The hero of the penalty shootout of the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, Dudek, was in goal. Another hero from the game, midfielder Vladmir Smicer, came on in the second half. So did Dietmar Hamann, who was the holding midfielder for Germany in the 2002 World Cup final against Brazil in Japan.

The biggest cheer, though, was when Anfield icon Ian Rush came on late in the second half. Rush, who is Liverpool's leading scorer of all time, won 5 first division titles and two European cups in the 1980s. Left-back Steve Harkness, who was in the Reds' squad during their last league win in 1989-90, was another representative from the times when Liverpool ruled England.

Speaking after the game, Duric said he was overwhelmed with such a grand testimonial. "I am privileged to have played my testimonial against such legends of the game," said the striker who was an integral part of The Lions' 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup win. "I am disappointed that my left foot did not score a goal tonight. I told Jerzy Dudek after the game that he should have given me a goal but they wanted to win as much as I wanted to score."

Ian Rush was all praise for Duric. "He was outstanding tonight," said the Anfield legend. "He troubled our centre-back Phil Babb all night and Babb is still very quick. Duric would have scored tonight had it been any other keeper other than Dudek, who was awesome. We hope he enjoys his retirement and has a wonderful life with his family."

Rush also praised the crowd. "It was a great atmosphere inside the stadium in spite of the rain," said Rush. "Our players did not want to go off the pitch at half time because of the ambience. I am happy that the crowd turned up in big numbers to make Duric's evening special."

Duric, 44, will now walk away into the sunset knowing that passionate fans of his adopted nation will be forever with him. As they say in Anfield, he'll never walk alone.

Liverpool Masters: Jerzy Dudek, Phil Babb, Bjorn Tore Kvarme, Steve Harkness, Jan Kromkamp, Steve McManaman, Patrick Berger, David Thompson, Jari Litmanen, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey.

Subs: Stephane Henchoz, Michael Thomas, Vladmir Smicer, Dietmar Hamann and Ian Rush (player-manager).

Singapore Masters: Rezal Hassan, S. Subramani, Aide Iskandar, Lim Tong Hai, Rafi Ali, Nazri Nasir, Steven Tan, Nahar Daud, Aleksandar Duric, Fandi Ahmad, V. Sundramoorthy.

Subs: Shahri Rahim, Syed Faruk, Zulkarnean Zainal, Malek Awab, Dalis Supait.