Football, oh football! How you have stolen the hearts of billions of people around the world, no one will ever truly know. ‘The beautiful game’ people call it. It’s a worldwide phenomena that can never be truly gone. People from all walks of life have surely had a brief infatuation with you which has stuck on. For me, the best ever season of football that could have possible happened to a Liverpool fan, was last season when they finally grasped the most coveted trophy in all of football, The Champions League title.
Liverpool is one of the most prestigious clubs in all of English Football, having won many major honours that were available at that time. The club was founded in 1892 after splitting from another local team known as Everton. The club gained it’s major success after a manager by the name of Bill Shankly, possibly the greatest manager Liverpool has ever had, guided the club back to the first division. The arrival of Bill Shankly laid the foundations that would eventually make this club one of the greatest in football history by winning a myriad of English League Championships and 4 European Championships (Champions League).
Between 1990 to 1998, the decline of this once giant club began when Graeme Souness took charge. Souness’ reign of the club was not a successful one with many failed attempts to win the league and many poor finishes. Even years later, the club never really rose from the level of mediocrity it had somehow sunken into.
But in the year 2005, the signings of big names such as Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Morientes improved the outlook of the club but it soon became bittersweet with the sale of one of the brightest talents in the league, Michael Owen, to Real Madrid. In this year, one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history was witnessed. Liverpool, having conceded three goals in the first half of the final against AC Milan, rose out of impending doom by scoring three goals in the second half, seeing out extra time, and winning on penalties to win the 2005 Champions League Trophy. This was also the first year that Rafa Benitez took charge of the club. This game was dubbed ‘The Miracle Of Istanbul’ due to the fact that it seemed an impossible feat for Liverpool, the underdogs, to beat such an established team in AC Milan. Liverpool’s victory was greeted with astonishment, notably from manager Rafa Benitez who admitted in the conclusion of the match: “My problem is that I don’t have the words to express the things that I am feeling at the moment”. Television pundit and former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen said “It wasn’t just the best comeback in a European Cup final, It was the best comeback I’ve seen in football, it was the best comeback I’ve seen in sport anywhere in the world.” One of the greatest players in fooball history, Diego Maradona said that English clubs proved that miracles do exist.
In the recent years, a sort of resurgence of the club had been happening, with the appointment of one of the most charismatic figures in football, Jurgen Klopp, as the manager of Liverpool in the year 2015, fresh after resigning as the manager of a German club, Borussia Dortmund, where he brought the club from a mid- table club to eventual league winners and Champions league finalists. Jurgen Klopp had always been famous for being the closest to winning major honours, but always got unlucky by not winning it. When Klopp first came to Liverpool, in his first press conference he said that this is not a normal club, it is a special club stating that it is the perfect next step for him to try and help the sleeping giants become great again. He also stated jokingly that if he doesn’t win a title in his fourth year at the club, he would be better off winning a title in Swizerland by managing a Swiss team.
In the 2017/2018 season, Liverpool found their heart, securing qualification for the champions league by finishing fourth. The sudden emergence of Andy Robertson, bought to be a backup player to Alberto Moreno, and 19- year-old Trent Alexander Arnold as regular starters, along with buying arguably the best defender in the world, Virgil Van Dijk helped with the sudden resurgence. In that year, Liverpool, the joke of a club who only had glories of the past to remember, somehow managed to play their way into the final of the champions league by beating eventual Premier League Champions Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate in the quarter finals and a 7-6 aggregate win over AS Roma in the semi-final, a team who came back from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona 4-3. However, in the finals, Liverpool’s best player, Mohamed Salah, had gone off injured in the first half after a harsh tackle from a Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, which was one of the reasons they lost the final. Another being two costly errors made by the goalkeeper at that time, Loris Karius. I remember watching that game, the heartbreak it caused me was so bad I could not show my face anywhere or even play football games on my Play Station.
But even after the loss, everyone at Liverpool was optimistic for the coming season. Liverpool had managed to get some high-profile signings as they had prestige from getting to the finals of the champions league. Most importantly was the signing of a new goalkeeper, Allision Becker, AS Roma’s keeper last season. At that season, Liverpool had gone on to get their best ever league start in the club’s history, winning their first six matches. The season ended in disappointment in the league though, as Liverpool lost the league title on the last day as Manchester City won it by one point. As Liverpool had always had a romance with the Champions League, it was no surprise that they did so well there. They finished second in their group, almost got knocked out actually, and went on to beat Bayern Munich, the German champions in the round of 16. Then, they beat the Portugese champions, Porto, in the quarter finals. The semi-finals against Barcelona is also considered one of the best comebacks in football history as Liverpool conceded three goals in the first leg. Klopp reportedly asked his players then to “just try” or to “fail in the most beautiful way” in the second leg of the game. In the second leg, by some divine intervention, Liverpool managed to beat Barcelona by 4 goals advancing 4-3 on aggregate despite a few of Liverpool’s best players being injured. The winning goal of course had to come with some controversy, with Liverpool winning a corner and the Barcelona players complaining to the referee. Trent Alexander Arnold saw Divock Origi standing in the box, unmarked, and kicked the ball to him quickly, right under the noses of the Barcelona players in what is infamously dubbed the Trent Corner, to score the fourth foal and get Liverpool into the final of the champions league in consecutive seasons. In the finals, Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspurs 2-0 with goals from Mohamed Salah and Origi, giving Klopp his first trophy with Liverpool, his first champions league trophy and the club’s sixth champions league title overall (and also in his fourth year in charge). This moment, was the first moment that I, a young Liverpool fan, saw my club finally win a trophy after almost a decade. This moment made me believe that miracles can really happen if you never give up and always see things optimistically.