IT was ten years ago this week that Markus Liebherr rescued Saints, before leaving a legacy that has helped ensure it is a Premier League club today.

After a season in League One that began with a ten-point deduction, following two relegations in four years, and the linking of more than a dozen investors with St Mary’s, billionaire Liebherr provided a hope that remains.

It was during the second week of July 2009 that Saints entered a bright new era.

The week began in relatively humble surroundings, during a 2-2 draw against AFC Totton in a pre-season friendly at the Testwood Stadium on Tuesday, July 7.

The next day, Saints fans were given cause for optimism, after several years of decline, when these pages featured the following reference in a background piece on their likely new owner.

“This is a very sensible and serious guy,” a source told the Daily Echo. “He is buying this out of his personal money and it is not in any way connected with the Liebherr family business.

“If he does acquire Saints he will not spend money all over the place, he will be sensible and measured. But he does understand what he needs to be done.

“It seems a long time coming at Southampton but this is the ideal purchaser and one who knows what you’ve got to do to get out of League One and the Championship. He won’t just go mad and throw money at it, but Southampton are getting a first-rate new owner.”

When the takeover was completed, Markus’s statement gave Saints fans even more belief that he was the real deal. “I believe we have a superb opportunity to rebuild this great club,” he said. “Clearly, this will require resources, planning, hard work and patience. We will assemble a strong management team at every level of the club.

“We will act rapidly, but also plan for the long term, because I am here for the long term. I also look forward to the club re-engaging with the fans and the local community.

“We cannot succeed with out their backing. We should not expect instant success, but our fans, employees and other stakeholders can expect 100 per cent commitment from me and my team.”

Those who were at Wembley in March 2010 will never forget the sight of Liebherr beaming down as Saints beat Carlisle to win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

It made his tragic passing five months later all the harder to take. Lest we forget, Saints would be in a much sorrier predicament now were it not for the largesse of the avuncular Markus.

After back-to-back promotions and seven successive seasons back in the Premier League that include four top-eight finishes, Markus’s legacy continues to live on through his daughter Katharina, the spectacular training ground at Staplewood, where the pavilion bears his name, and the spirit that the club embodies under Ralph Hasenhuttl, their latest Alpine connection.

No doubt Markus would be nodding sagely in admiration of the job that Hasenhuttl has done so far this year. The prospect of a full season with the Austrian in charge of Saints has whetted the appetite just as Liebherr’s arrival did a decade ago.