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Liverpool hat-trick hero from LASK died at 22 and had shirt number retired in his honour

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LIVERPOOL

The Reds travel to Austria to take on LASK Linz in the Europa League on Thursday night, with the two clubs forever linked by the sad story of Besian Idrizaj

Long before everyone was welcomed there by Hollywood superstars, Wrexham was a favourite destination for Rafael Benitez.

In each of the first four summers of the Spaniard’s Liverpool reign the Reds would make the short journey to north east Wales to take on the Football League side in their opening pre-season friendly, with the games quickly becoming occasions that the locals would look forward to.

In 2004, in what was Benitez’s first ever Liverpool game in charge, a brace from Anthony Le Tallec gave the Reds a 2-1 win at a time when no-one could have expected what would come next. Fast forward 12 months, and Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were bringing the Champions League trophy onto the Racecourse Ground pitch before a 4-3 win which featured braces from Fernando Morientes and Milan Baros.

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