Home Sports Liverpool’s historical rollercoaster of emotions: from heartbreak to comebacks

Liverpool’s historical rollercoaster of emotions: from heartbreak to comebacks

by Fatima Dia March 27, 2020
Liverpool’s historical rollercoaster of emotions: from heartbreak to comebacks

*Yes, football in this article refers to soccer*

It seems as though there’s a perpetual state of heartbreak in this world. Every time something good happens, a hundred other bad things do too.

And now with the current COVID-19 outbreak, things seem to be apocalyptic; the entire world is on pause. This virus knows no borders and isn’t picky with whom it infects, from vulnerable people to healthy athletes, everyone is at risk—so above all, stay inside, stay safe, for yourselves and those around you.

There are things people hold on to during these times, and football is one of them for me. I’m a Liverpool FC (LFC) fan, and the frustrating part of this fantastic team is that it has no shortage of would-be heart-attacks. LFC is a team with an immense history, from Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly to Jurgen Klopp.

And right before the official world outbreak of the virus, the Reds got knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I did in that moment. The reigning champions, knocked out because of one silly, silly mistake. Why did it hurt so much? Let me tell you a story.

There was a young lad, scouser through and through, who breathed and bled football. From a young age in the city of Liverpool, there was no other road for Steven Gerrard than that of Anfield. Even before I became an LFC fan, I would hear Gerrard’s name from football fans around me almost as if it was a prayer. No matter what team you support, there’s no denying Gerrard’s talent. He belonged to the game, and he belonged to that city.

Liverpool is a football place. The passion for the game flows through the entire maritime town. On April 15, 1989, the city was left in shock after a tragedy in the Hillsborough stadium killed 96 fans due to a lack of police control. The disaster shook the city to its very core. Things just weren’t the same after that. Liverpool was hurting, and at the same time, money grew more and more important in football.

Gerrard was football before the money, before the capitalization of the game. He was the sweat on the brow of a fan waiting in line to enter Anfield, the smile from a kid on his dad’s shoulder, the angry shouts from women in the stands. He was passionate and determined and he gave Liverpool a miracle—I mean that literally.

After beating Chelsea in the semi-finals of the 2005 Champions League, LFC took to the road to Istanbul. Thirty thousand LFC fans made their way there to watch. Two minutes after the starting-whistle, AC Milan scored. Somehow, because that’s how football works, by the time the half-time whistle blew, LFC were down 3-0.

Walk on, through the wind

Walk on, through the rain, 

Though your dreams be tossed and blown,” 

The travelling Reds sang their hearts out to the beat of LFC’s hymn, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” They sang and lifted their arms and put up their flags, loud and clear.

Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone.” 

The players came back out onto the pitch. If something was to happen, there was one man to do it. Six minutes into the second half, Gerrard loops the ball into the top right-hand corner. Goal. Barely two minutes later, Vladimir Smicer scores, and it’s now 3-2. About four minutes after that, a penalty for LFC. Xabi Alonso takes it, AC Milan goalie Dida saves it, the ball rebounds, Alonso is there, and GOAL.

It’s 3-3 and there was no way that title was going to escape LFC’s hands after a historical comeback like that one. And it didn’t, that night LFC were crowned Champions of Europe for the fifth time in the club’s history after winning the penalty shoot-out. It had been 21 years since the last time LFC had won that title. The Miracle of Istanbul to this day is regarded as one of the greatest finals in the history of the tournament.

LFC wasn’t one of the richer teams. Even Gerrard at some point almost left. Then-Chelsea-manager Jose Mourinho went after him consistently. But Gerrard stayed. Scouser through and through. There was one thing left to do: bring LFC back to its glory days in England, and win the Premier League. It wasn’t easy. But the 2013-14 Premier League season brought the Reds and the Kopites (the supporters) hope. April 13, 2014, Liverpool beat top-of-the-league Manchester City, setting the momentum for that much-desired League trophy.

“This does not slip,” Gerrard shouted at his teammates after that game. The next week against Norwich City, LFC won again. And then came the game against Chelsea. Mourinho slowed the pace of the game, the genius of him revolved around how important he knew this game was to LFC. He played a mental game that day, placed a bet and won. Gerrard slipped, leading to Chelsea’s first goal.

The title was gone.

Five years later, we have a new manager. This German guy who smiles too brightly always wears caps and has single-handedly put a smile on my face every time I’ve felt a little down. Jurgen Klopp. After Gerrard retired, the future seemed bleak for LFC supporters and holding on to hope, the kind that “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sings about, was a test of faith. But supporters held on, loyalty was valued. The team began shaping itself into the beast it is now, claiming England and Europe by storm. Yes, LFC didn’t have the budget other teams did. But here’s what we did have: passion, determination, hard work, and Klopp.

In 2019, LFC was pitted against Barcelona for the semi-final of the Champions League. The first leg was at Camp Nou, and even though the boys played one of their best games, Barcelona won 3-0. But in a month, they were coming to Anfield. Hungry, passionate, and deserving, the Kopites made noise like never before. The team needed to score four goals and keep a clean sheet to win.

Without Mohammad Salah and Roberto Firmino—two key starting players ruled out from the game due to injuries.  And yet… it’s Liverpool FC after all. I was in Barcelona when I watched that game, terrified, excited, somehow with a lot of belief.

A series of unbelievable events took place that night at Anfield.

Seven minutes in, Divock Origi scored. LFC lead at half-time. Georginio Wijnaldum was subbed in and scored two magnificent goals within two minutes. The defence was rock-solid, every one of the players buzzing and feeding off the famous Anfield atmosphere. Then, it’s a corner for LFC. Trent Alexander-Arnold was set to take it, but walked away to give it to Xherdan Shaqiri, but in a blink, he was back at the corner, spotted Origi, shot, and Origi tapped it in. That was the fourth goal. That year, LFC took the Champions League trophy home, 14 years later, another historical comeback under their belt.

This season, LFC wanted the Premier League. The team won 27 games, drawing one, and losing one. Two more wins and the title was ours. Two more wins, and 30 years later, we get that title.

But, as Klopp said, “there are more important things than football.” The virus hit, and everything stopped—as it should. Hearing of this after being knocked out of the Champions League even though the team did everything right completely shattered me.

After everything this team and fanbase have been through… a slip? A virus? And I can’t even be angry because it’s no one’s fault. This is just what happens. But, Liverpool FC is known for comebacks. So walk on with your heads held high, Kopites.

And for the world, stay home, stay healthy. Be sad, but be safe. As the beautiful song goes, “at the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark.”

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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