Liverpool have always had a tradition of cult heroes.
Over the years, from Joey Jones' clenched fists to the Kop - which would result in arguably the most famous Liverpool banner of all time - to Kolo Toure's perma-smiling face and sibling-related dance moves which got fans and players boogying alike, certain players have arrived at Anfield and captured hearts and minds as much for their character and personality as their footballing abilities.
For a player regarded as such to be voted in the club's top 100 players of all time in a poll on the club's website despite having spent only 18 months at the club while playing barely three dozen matches indicates there must have been some special talent added to the mix as well.
And that was certainly the case when it came to Titi Camara, the flamboyant Guinean forward, who scored one of the most significant goal of his brief Liverpool career 21 years ago this weekend.
He arrived at Anfield as Gerard Houllier was attempting to kick-start a revolution he knew was badly needed as he sifted through the wreckage of an first abortive season at the club which had been overshadowed by the sad end of Roy Evans' 35 years service following the doomed joint-manager experiment.
Liverpool's clear decline from the exciting yet ultimately unfulfilling mid-point of the decade when Evans' attacking yet defensively-flawed side had flirted with major honours had been painfully highlighted by bitter rivals Manchester United winning an unprecedented Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League double, while the Reds had finished a distant seventh, barely winning more league matches than they lost (15 to 14).
Anfield was in dire need of some feel-good factor and the board recognised that by backing the manager significantly in the transfer market.
A new defensive spine was added with the recruitment of £4m goalkeeper Sander Westerveld from Vitesse Arnhem and a pair of centre backs, £3.5m Swiss stopper Stephane Henchoz from Blackburn and the ludicrously under-priced £2.6m Sami Hyypia from Vitesse Arnhem.
£8m German Dietmar Hamann was brought in from Newcastle to add steel in the middle of the park with a further £4.2m being spent on Lens' attacking midfielder Vladimir Smicer and German forward Erik Meijer arriving from Bayer Leverkusen on a free.
The £2.6m capture of 27-year-old Camara from Marseille in early June flew somewhat under the radar, with those who had seen his performance in the French club's limp UEFA Cup final defeat to Parma in Moscow not holding too many hopes of the impact their new frontman may be able to make.
While nearly all of that summer's signings went on enjoy longer and more successful Liverpool careers however, it was Camara who arguably made the biggest first impression and helped set the tone for an uplifting season of real positivity and progress which tapered out sadly in the final weeks and down in no small place to the Guinean's fall from grace in the eyes of his manager.
He made the kind of start every new striker dreams of, scoring in a win on his debut as Liverpool beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Hillsborough - which remains the last time the Reds have played a match on that ground - firing home a left foot shot in the 84th minute to double the advantage nine minutes after Robbie Fowler's opener, with Benito Carbone's late strike proving mere consolation.
The Guardian dubbed Camara 'an intriguing prospect' while the ECHO noted : “The theory remains that Camara, for all his instant love affair with the supporters, will prove a better substitute in the long run; able to change the course of games in that role rather than from the start.”
It was a theory that Houllier would embrace to some degree with 13 of the 37 appearances Camara made that season coming from the bench but not immediately as, despite the successive defeats which following at home to newly-promoted Watford and away at Middlesbrough, Camara kept his place as Liverpool faced a testing-looking trip to Leeds United and a home clash with Arsenal. It was to pay off handsomely.
Despite going behind early on at Elland Road to a Rigobert Song own goal, Camara led a stirring Liverpool fightback with his willingness to run with the ball and take on defenders seeming to give confidence to those around him, slamming home a superb equaliser on the stroke of half time with an instinctive first-time finish.
The Liverpool Daily Post correspondent proved more impressed than his ECHO counterpart at the previous away game in Yorkshire, writing: "Much of the impetus going forward centred around the irrepressible talents of Camara, whose pace was a constant thorn; his flicks leaving defender after defender chasing shadows.
"Whereas in previous outings he has looked erratic and unpredictable, so last night he looked a world beater and richly deserved his strike which is another contender for goal of the season.
"Employed playing mainly as a lone striker, the Guinea striker had been far and away Liverpool's most dangerous player when his skills spectacularly came together in first-half injury time.
"Collecting a quickly taken free-kick from Redknapp, Camara's attempts to slip Berger past the last line of defence were denied by Radebe's out-stretched leg.
"But when the ball spun back to the former Marseille striker, he curled a breathtaking, brilliant instinctive shot with his right-foot that beat Nigel Martyn and restored parity via the underside of the crossbar."
Although Camara didn't score in the following weekend's 2-0 home victory over the Gunners, he kept his place for the next game a fortnight later after the international break against the newly-crowned European champions but struggled to make much of an impression as ten-man United triumphed 3-2 thanks in part to two Jamie Carragher own goals.
With Michael Owen nearing full fitness following a pre-season injury, Camara found himself on the bench for the next month as perhaps inevitably in a squad full of so many new players the Reds struggled for form and consistency in September being unable to record a Premier League victory throughout the month which included a home derby defeat to Everton.
After the winless run was ended with a hard-fought 1-0 Anfield triumph over a Chelsea side who the game before had beaten Manchester United 5-0 and with injuries beginning to bite, Camara was back in the starting line up for the Premier League trip to Southampton and justified his selection by grabbing a late equaliser to send the Reds back home to Merseyside with a useful point and the following midweek saw him cement his place in the affections of Liverpudlians for good.
On this day in 1999, as Liverpool were preparing for a Premier League clash with West Ham at Anfield, the tragic news came through from Guinea that Camara's father had died.
Knowing he was the only fit striker Houllier had at his disposal, Titi insisted on being selected to play and would go on to score the game's only goal two minutes before half time, dropping to his knees after converting from close-range at the Anfield Road end and burying his face in his hands to weep at the emotion of the moment, with virtually everyone else in the ground unaware of the circumstances.
Houllier said afterwards: "He lost his dad during the day but he told me, 'I want to play for my father.'
"He was crying after he scored because it was such an emotional day."
His hero status in the eyes of Liverpool fans was assured from that moment on but his exhilarating football talent was giving belief to a young side still tentatively finding its feet and he would start every match he was available for until early March.
His ready smile and bustling style accompanied by an assortment of flicks and tricks seem to exuded the kind of sheer joy and simple enjoyment we all encounter when falling in love with football as kids, before the distractions of tactics, titles and pressure become part of the mix.
While never threatening to outscore the likes of Owen or Fowler, he was regularly contributing to the goal tally with many of his strikes showing off the effervescence and variety of his talents: a jinking run and low left-footed drive that helped turn a shock home reverse against Bradford into a 3-1 win, a dextrous first-time hooked volley to grab the opener in a tricky-looking FA Cup third round tie at Championship high-flyers Huddersfield, a long range blockbuster at home to Coventry to mark the 40th anniversary commemorations of Bill Shankly's Anfield arrival in style and a classic, clinical striker's finish in front of the North Bank to give Liverpool what would be their last ever victory at Highbury.
Jamie Carragher summed up the dynamic effect the Guinean made in the first half of his Anfield career, saying "When he first came, the first three or four months, we all thought what have we got here – Pele?
"Every time you gave him the ball he was flicking it over someone’s head or scoring some great goals. Unfortunately it went a bit pear shaped for him towards the end."
That assessment would be mirrored by the team's fortunes at the business end of the campaign, with the two elements being clearly interlinked.
After 15 consecutive appearances from the start, Camara was dropped to the bench against Sunderland to make way for new club record signing Emile Heskey days after his £11m move from Leicester, the Reds new boy winning a penalty within two minutes which was converted by Patrik Berger although the Mackems would hit back through Kevin Phillips to earn a point.
After coming off the bench to score and seal a 2-0 win at Derby County, Camara was in from the start the following weekend and scored the opener with a sweetly-taken half-volley as a 2-1 win gave Liverpool a four point lead in third place as the pre-season objective of Champions League qualification for the first time looked ever more viable. But it would be the final goal he ever scored for the Reds.
The following week he was back on the bench at Coventry as Heskey broke his Liverpool duck by getting on the scoresheet in his fifth game, the new man showing further signs of striking up an effective partnership with Michael Owen in the following weekend's 2-0 home victory over Tottenham.
Heskey would triple his Liverpool tally seven days after that with a brace in a 3-2 win at Wimbledon that left the Reds five points clear in second place with the Champions League surely now beckoning if the final five games could be negotiated without too much mishap.
But Heskey's goals at Selhurst Park weren't just his final strikes of the season, they were Liverpool's last ones as well.
Inexplicably for a side which had showed considerable attacking verve for much of the season the goals dried up just at the time Liverpool needed them most, with goalless draws away at Everton and home to Southampton (which would be Camara's first start for over a month and his last for the club) being sandwiched between 2-0 defeats away at Chelsea and at home to Leicester.
From having some margin for error due to their consistent post-Christmas form, Houllier's side went into the final match of the season away to a Bradford City who needed a win to keep them up in their first ever Premier League season suddenly knowing that only three points would guarantee third spot and the Champions League qualification which looked close to nailed on only weeks before.
David Weatherall's early header proved enough to get three points against a Liverpool side who suddenly couldn't buy a goal and Leeds, who only drew their final two matches at home to Everton and away to West Ham, had secured the coveted third spot which had somehow slipped through the Reds' grasp.
It was a bitter conclusion to a campaign which had promised much for the large part of its duration, even if Houllier would use the disappointment to recruit well over the summer again and deliver one of Anfield's greatest seasons of the modern era.
The manager's determination to play his big money striker and build a partnership with a 21-year-old Michael Owen now beginning to approach his peak was understandable, even if the discarding of Camara for the much of the crucial run-in his previous contributions had done plenty to help engineer proved to be costly.
With the England pair now established as Liverpool's first-choice strikeforce, it was clear Camara may struggle for game time in 2000/01 and in fact he never played for the club again.
An injury in pre-season along with Heskey and Owen's burgeoning link-up, saw him sold to West Ham United in the December for £1.5m after his relationship with the manager deteriorated beyond repair, Houllier later saying: "Titi got injured at half-time in the pre-season friendly with Parma on August 12th. He is the only player I know who has got injured without playing.
"The injury was so bad that he could only come back seven weeks later. I don’t know what kind of injury he had. So his first game for us was on October 2nd against Manchester United reserves and then he went away to play an international match in Guinea.
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"He came back on October 11th and then we played three games against Derby, Leicester, and Slovan Liberec. He was not involved in the first two but was on the bench for the game with Liberec. The following day he came to see me and said that he did not want to play for Liverpool and that he wanted to leave. If he doesn’t want to play for Liverpool and wear the red shirt, then that’s it."
It was a truly sad end for a player who had shown just how much he wanted to play for Liverpool and wear the red shirt only a year before in the most difficult of circumstances.
Camara's career petered out somewhat, leaving West Ham without scoring a goal in 14 appearances and finishing his career in Qatar, meaning Houllier's ultimate decision was never drastically proved wrong.
But for whatever the whys and wherefores of his departure, Titi's place in Anfield folklore is secure, for the loyalty he showed Liverpool on one of his darkest days, and for how his talent - however briefly - lit up a team and a fanbase in need of it.