If you follow football (or soccer as its known in the US) you almost undoubtedly watched the UEFA Champion’s League Final match on Saturday (26th May 2018) between the favourites Real Madrid and the underdogs Liverpool FC. And if you follow football and didn’t watch it— well, shame on you.
It was a glorious night if you support Real Madrid—or even hate Liverpool—with the Spanish giants claiming a 3-1 win over the men in red. A critical moment came with the perceived deliberate attack on the Egyptian King Mohamed Salah by the renowned defender Sergio Ramos. Salah has been a highly influential player all season, winning the PFA Player of the Year award and becoming the highest scoring player in the 2017/18 Premier League season. Understandably, his absence from the game was a huge blow for the Liverpool squad and was, in my mind, a factor in the defeat. The Reds’ keeper Loris Karius had one of the hardest nights imaginable in a Champion’s League Final, with two major errors that ultimately contributed to the demise of all hope of lifting the cup for the first time in thirteen years.
You would think after such a harrowing, heartbreaking night in Kiev, fans of Liverpool would be feeling crushed and quite frankly, defeated. But you’d be wrong if you thought that.
Don’t get the wrong, the defeat against Real Madrid is still very real for us all and something that will remain in our minds for a long while yet. After all, this was our first real opportunity at regaining European silverware in over a decade.
So why all the positivity?
Honestly, that’s just part of who we are. Our history is rich in silverware and glory at the top of the table, but it also hasn’t been that way for a long time. So positivity is kind-of a must in the long run.
But arguably, more importantly, our time in Kiev reignited a flame inside the hearts of fans who may have somewhat doubted our capabilities and reaffirmed those who already believed that Liverpool FC is the greatest club in the world. It showed us all that Liverpool have the potential that many have doubted over the past few years.
Sure, we may not win trophies every season or break records on the European stage. But we have something far more lucrative and valuable than any trophy will ever be. We have a family.
For me, there is no other club like Liverpool. Week in, week out, fans from all over flock to the home stadium of Anfield armed with their favourite scarf, supporters flag, and an innumerable arsenal of songs and chants that celebrate the true spirit of LFC. The atmosphere in and out of the stadium is indescribable and I always leave feeling an overwhelming buzz in my energy levels, always hungry for more.
Kiev was no different. The scenes emerging on YouTube show this perfectly clear. Fans sang in the streets, the pubs, the parks—all in support of their club. Countless renditions of “Allez, Allez, Allez” can likely still be heard echoing around the back-streets of Kiev and on the planes returning home. For, although we lost, we did so as a team, and as a family. And that’s the beauty of family—we stick together.
Ex-players and opponents’ fans alike have mocked our attitude after losing the cup final calling us deluded, and they laugh at our hope for the future. Ex-footballer Gary Neville turned our beloved “Allez Allez Allez” song into a mockery. But do we care? Not in the slightest.
That song, for myself and thousands of fans all over the world, is way more than just a song. It is a rallying call for the supporters and players; a call for us to come together in a display of strength and unity. It is our warcry to show the rest of the world that we are not afraid of any challenge put in front of us. For some, it has even become part of their very soul and personally, I have not stopped singing it. The words resonate with each and every individual involved, whether they were on the pitch, in the stadium, in Kiev, or even sat in their homes with their feet-up and a beer and they will become etched in my mind for a very, very long time. When all that can be achieved through one song, no amount of mockery can dampen it.
This is why the Liverpool spirit cannot be extinguished, even in the face of adversity. We are stronger than any defeat, and together, nothing can break us.
Our motto “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is a testimony to our family-like attitude we have at Liverpool. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or who you are, you are always welcome at Liverpool, and no one will leave you in the dark. And Kiev was no exception. Most clubs only dream of having this glowing aura residing with its family. But I guess that’s what separates us from them.