Doubters To Believers

With the match a few short hours away, Jordan Henderson had been summoned by his manager. It was the 30th August 2012 and Liverpool were gearing up for a crucial Europa League clash vs Hearts. Jordan Henderson would be starting, very possibly for the last time, as Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers were prepared to give him up as part of a deal for Fulham’s American star, Clint Dempsey. “It implied to me that he would let me leave and it was up to me. I went back to my room. I shed a few tears. I ended up crying a little bit because it hurt so much. I had the game that night to think about as well.

Jordan Henderson, front and centre, celebrates with the European Cup. Photo Credit: CosminIftode / Shutterstock

Henderson was subbed off on the 76th minute mark, with the tie poised at 1-0 to Liverpool, with Henderson off, a Pepe Reina error brought Hearts level before Luis Suarez bailed Liverpool out late on. “I spoke to my agent and told him what had happened and I said I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay and fight and try and improve and try to prove the manager wrong. My agent agreed. I spoke to my dad. He was gutted but he backed my decision to stay and fight.”

From that point on Henderson kept his head down playing a pivotal role in Liverpool’s surprise and heart breaking title challenge in the 2013-14 season and then became Liverpool’s vice-captain on the 15th September 2014, following the departure of Daniel Agger.

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“Life at this age is rubbish with no money #needajob” Andy Robertson tweeted on the 18th of August 2012. “I’d have been 17, just turning 18 when I took that job. I was still at school. It was Christmas, they were bringing on temporary staff.”

“I was one of them. I enjoyed it, to be honest with you! When I look back, that’s where I feel it was quite good. I never put pressure on myself.

Andy Robertson, left, makes a crucial last ditch tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2018 Champions League Final. Photo Credit: viewimage / Shutterstock

“I wasn’t thinking, ‘That’s football gone’. I was relaxed. People fall out of love with the game when they leave academies. But I can cope with things. I’ve never thought to myself, ‘I’m giving up on this’. There’s no easy way to the top”, said Robertson.

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“I’m very interested in how the brain works and the different personality types” Divock Origi tells Andy Hunter in a 2017 interview with the Guardian, “Maybe if I wasn’t a footballer I’d be a psychologist.”

A few months later Liverpool would loan the young striker out to Vfl Wolfsburg, for many this seemed to suggest Origi’s Liverpool career was coming to an end and, after a less than convincing stint in Germany, that outcome seemed highly likely.

Divock Origi scored the second goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham, to seal Champions League victory

However, on the 2nd of December, with Liverpool drawing at home to Everton, Origi was introduced as an 84th minute sub replacing Roberto Firmino. The ball fell to Virgil Van Dijk just outside the box, the technically gifted centre half swung a boot at it and completely sliced the attempted shot. It seemed to everyone on the red side of Merseyside, that this hapless effort had put an end to their hopes of a derby day win. Everyone bar Divock Origi that is, he did what every striker is told to do from the first time they step on a football pitch, follow the shot in. Anything can happen, and anything did happen, a sloppy Jordan Pickford handling error and Divock Origi went from the forgotten man, to derby day hero.

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“They still need to come to us” I told my mates as the whistle blew, bringing the first leg to a close. Lionel Messi magic had been the difference between the two teams in the first leg and it seemed to all neutrals that the tie was done and dusted. But not to Liverpool fans, for we have been here plenty of times and they still had to come to Anfield. As the buses rolled towards the stadium, Liverpool fans stood outside ready to greet the team, flares and scarves in hand, to let the players know, we have not given up on you, a message which was reflected on Mohammed Salah’s t-shirt.

Liverpool fans outside the ground welcome the buses for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final Vs Barcelona. Photo Credit: Gil Corzo

Make Us Dream has been a Liverpool moniker for years, and it could not be more potent than on this night. You’ll Never Walk Alone was boomed out across the ground in defiance, it had felt all year like it was Liverpool against the world and on this night that sense was more pervasive than ever. In addition, the reds were without Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino against the greatest player in world football. Six minutes into the game and Liverpool’s former forgotten man had sparked the reds into life, “There’s one back… Divock Origi!”

From that moment onwards, it was never in doubt, Barcelona never stood a chance. It was always going to be one of those famous nights at Anfield.

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For many, the journey to Liverpool’s sixth European Cup was etched in heartache and many knockbacks. From the stands to the many personal situations of players out on that pitch the season had been characterised by never giving up. From the players and the fans, everyone kept going together. It would have been easy to call it a day but not at Liverpool, because at Liverpool, the city and the club, it is your obligation to keep fighting until the last… together. A philosophy that was personified by Anne Williams and her relentless struggle for justice in the aftermath of Hillsborough, and that is continued to this day.

So, when the players walked out to play Barcelona and the fans took to the ground, there was nothing to fear, for there had been many situations to overcome past and present. At the end of the day, it was just a game of football, albeit a game of football that meant absolutely everything!

“I said to the boys before the game it was impossible. But because it’s you, I say we have a chance” Jurgen Klopp