I got a fever and the only prescription is more Daniel Agger.
I didn't grow up idolizing athletes. I spent my youth obsessing over fine musical specimens whose life choices were horrifically flawed — Keith Richards, occupation: hero — and who were not necessarily people to look up to, which I knew even as a naive fourteen year-old. I've become a wee bit smarter as an adult, opting instead to spend my emotional energy on people of character, people with moral fibre, people who strive to make the world a little less horrible for everyone.
This makes for a tough transition into the world of football, where we're consistently told that that the minimum expectations you might have regarding basic human decency are too high for the average footballer to meet. I wholeheartedly reject this notion because, rare though it may be, Liverpool consistently demonstrate the exact opposite to me every time Daniel Agger does, well, anything.
To say Agger has shifted into a completely new gear this summer would be an understatement. The Dane has always been known for his bluntness, his honest assessments of the state of the team, and his staggering loyalty that is surpassed perhaps only by those one-club men who were born on Merseyside, but during the period Brendan Rodgers spent assessing potential vice captains, Agger's off-pitch strengths seemed to grow exponentially. Being a front runner for the vice captaincy didn't make him complacent; if anything , it spurred him on.
"It's a difficult feeling to describe," Agger said on the honour of being Steven Gerrard's new right hand man. "Not many people have the success to become a professional footballer and not many people get the vice-captaincy, so that's a big, big thing for me, of course. But it's so difficult to describe. I always have responsibility, no matter if you're vice-captain or not. You have to always be there, always be at the front and, of course, try to help some of the young players."
The question of leadership style is an important one for a vice-captain, as he must be ready to step into the captain's boots at a moment's notice to command the troops. Gerrard's captaincy has been marked by his inspiring his team through his own incredible actions more than through well crafted pre-battle speeches, and his influence is one that Agger will integrate into his own style.
"Now I have been here for almost eight years and Stevie has been the captain all the way," said Agger. "He is an amazing captain: he is the one I will look at. Not only in his football skills, because that speaks for itself, but the person he is and the way he treats people - he's just the best.
"When I play for Denmark and I'm the captain for Denmark, I've learned a lot in the last 10 years of my career. I'm trying to take the best part of all the good things, also from Stevie, and put it together in the way I want to do it. I think that's the best way to describe that."
What's key about Agger is the way that he seems to relish responsibility, and that the armband is something to hold in high esteem. It's an honour and not something to be taken lightly, and it's clear that for him it's not about a personal acknowledgement from your coach or a status symbol so much as a chance to represent something bigger than yourself.
"It's the biggest thing you can achieve at international level, being captain of your country," Agger enthused. "Every time I put that armband on, it makes me proud. You learn something all the time and when you put that armband on, something happens to you. It's difficult to describe but it's a good thing."
The whole interview is worth a heart-wrenching watch if you have a subscription to LFC.TV, as Agger's words take on a whole new dimension coming from the man himself. Agger has never had "personality" in the way that teammates like Pepe Reina have, and past interviews have always shown him to be a reserved and somewhat introverted character. This interview is something else entirely, where Agger cannot even begin to hide the emotions he's usually so careful to keep a lid on.
It is, to put it mildly, enough to make your heart burst. There's immense pride without a trace of arrogance, triumph without gloating, and elation without smugness at the place he's made for himself in the team and the growing mantle of responsibility that he has obviously yearned for and now gladly accepted. Agger's joy at being at the club was most evident at the end of the five minute interview when he was asked "What does Liverpool Football Club mean to Daniel Agger?" to which he dryly responded "Do we have time for that?" His face. HIS FACE.
The best thing about Daniel Agger? The way we feel about him is the same way he feels about Liverpool FC. Wild horses couldn't drag him away.