A recurring theme on Liverpool's summer tour thus far has been about the volume of support the club have encountered first in Indonesia and now in Australia. What might feel like a commercial branding exercise to those of us not fortunate to be on the tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans who live nearly seventeen-thousand kilometres away from Anfield. Like many of his teammates who have been put in front of the microphone so far this tour, Daniel Agger was equally impressed with the club's following abroad.
"It's always amazing to travel with Liverpool Football Club," Agger told the club's LFCTV channel. "It shows how this big club is, not only in England but all around the world. I wouldn't say I'm surprised — I've been here for so many years now. I've travelled a lot and I've seen it [the support], but it's still amazing. It's unbelievable."
As boilerplate as Agger's sentiments might sound, they easily fall into the category of things a club leader is expected to say in exactly these situations. There are many who believe that footballers should have no responsibility beyond showing up, training hard, playing well, and winning matches, but those finding themselves in possible leadership roles frequently end up taking on the "other duties as assigned" that exist in every job description. A captain like Steven Gerrard knows the importance of fan engagement, and Agger echoed that fan interaction is just as much a priority for him as it is for the supporters.
"It's important for them," Agger said. "They love it when you stop and sign an autograph or take a photo, so if it's important for them, then it's important for me. There are a lot of kids there as well, and you know that's just a part of the job, isn't it."
As someone who nearly threw up in an Olive Garden in Foxborough, Massachusettes last summer from the sheer excitement of possibly meeting Agger at an autograph signing, I'm glad that (in the words of Trev) he gets me as a fan. Sadly, our meeting was not to be — Agger was the one who wound up getting sick — but for the Indonesian, Australian, and Thai fans who will have the opportunity to meet the defender, it's nice to know that it's something that is a valued part of his job and not an unnecessary burden during pre-season training.
This is a key attitude for a potential future captain, of course. Agger is clearly aware of the fan support he's received in the vice captaincy debate, and it's equally clear that the fact that the discussion is even happening is very significant to him on a personal level.
"It's difficult to explain," said Agger on the subject, "but obviously that's a big feeling, a big thing for me as well. But that's not my decision."
Until Brendan Rodgers makes his choice at the end of pre-season, Agger will continue to vie for the job alongside various other teammates. There are many other fine options available to the manager and many considerations to weigh, but there are few who understand the importance of the club ethos better than the man who had it tattooed across his fingers.