We love you Liverpool, we do! And the 750,000 reds who lined the city’s streets this Sunday really proved that. This weekend just gone has been one of my most favourite, and memorable weekends in the 20 years I have been living. Here’s why…
It started with the build up. As soon as we woke up, my boyfriend and I stuck LFCTV on and got more and more excited for the game. The coverage by this channel was particularly outstanding all weekend in my opinion; as we got to hear from Liverpool players new and old. What better way to get excited than listening to the true legends of LFC and how excited they are!? Then after a few hours of that we travelled away from Manchester and into Liverpool for a family BBQ. Seeing my most favourite person surrounded by people he loves, embracing his culture and everything natural to him, made it a very special afternoon that I’ll never forget- and that’s before the game had even started!
We were treated to some beautiful flamenco guitar and fire building with the family. Moments I’ll always hold dearly in my heart.
As the day went on I’m ashamed to admit I started to feel uncharacteristically nervous. After last year in Kiev I just couldn’t face defeat, but my belief that we would win stayed true, especially with the help of my mum’s constant belief ‘We’re going to win this, I promise’ texts from her holiday in Cyprus throughout the day. Soaking up all of the social media highlights is one of my favourite parts- especially the footage of the Fan Park in Madrid. I think Jamie Webster is incredible and have watched him build his career with pride. Seeing him cry on stage in awe of the 50,000 Liverpool fans stood in front of him set me off. The noise of so many scousers singing songs for our players and our club, a sea of red passion, was incredible. More than enough to wipe the nerves away.
When the kick off whistle blew, none of us expected to be screaming ‘PENALTY’ within the first 20 seconds. But that’s exactly what happened. Exclamations of ‘yessssss’ rang around the living room whilst my hands came together at my heart and I whispered ‘come on Salah, you can do it, please’ repeatedly. Deep down, I really did believe that he would score. As you can imagine, the room erupted when the ball hit the back of the net. Without thinking I stood up on the couch screaming and then jumped off it to bear hug my boyfriend, still screaming. (I later apologised for standing on his family’s couch… woops :P). The exhilaration felt wonderful, and then we realised we had 88 minutes of football to keep a lead and win the Champions League.
The rest of the first half was… weird? To say the least. Neither team seemed like they knew what to do with such an early goal, and there were some really frustrating sloppy passes being played. But when that half time whistle went I knew Klopp would have a stern talk with them and they would come back out fighting. Alisson made some incredible saves in the second half and kept our nerves at bay. Every time it happened we all clapped and screamed ‘Yesss, you’re not getting past the best goal keeper in the world!’ About two minutes before the substitutions, I told my boyfriend that I thought Klopp should bring Origi on for Firmino, as he didn’t look fully fit. I wasn’t expecting Klopp to react so quickly but was very pleased to see both Milner and Origi come on. I couldn’t resist shouting ‘DIVOCK ORIGI’ as Big Man Div strolled on, confident as ever.
When he superbly slotted that second goal in, it felt like the happiest time of my life. I made noises I didn’t know were possible and jumped around the room once more. This time I turned to ‘Abuelo’ the grandad of the family, and as we met eyes and cheered, I couldn’t resist giving him a big hug of celebration. His beaming smiles said it all and once again, these are moments I will never forget. It felt like smooth sailing from then on, and I felt high on life until the final whistle. After a quick scream of celebration I rang my mum immediately, and we cried happy tears and shouts of ‘I can’t believe it, we did it!’ down the phone to each other until I realised how much it was probably costing me to call her in Cyprus. I also rang my dad, who lost his phone in the happy madness of celebrating his most favourite thing in the world.
Watching our Rock, Virgil Van Dijk, give in to the tears as soon as the whistle blew was a heart warming addition to the madness of full-time. I love all of the Liverpool players because they have given us so much joy, but even more than that I love them as people. Each and every one of them are so down to earth; such genuinely wonderful men, it’s impossible not to adore them. The redemption for Henderson was beautiful to watch, and the same goes for Klopp. It’s all down to him, and the legacy he has brought back to place this club back where it belongs- on top of the world. I for once found myself too elated even to happy-cry, and instead sat there beaming for hours after the match. Liverpool Football Club, Champions of Europe, for the SIXTH time!
The Parade the next day was nothing short of magical. I couldn’t stop crying as we drove into the city, as we encountered so many fans to cheer with and so many houses covered in that glorious red. The sense of community and belonging is something that I strive for constantly, and this day is the most I have ever felt it. There was only a slight tinge of sadness in that I wasn’t with my mum and dad- the reasons I support the club in the first place. But I was in communication with them all day which made it much easier.
We held our flags and scarves and sang our hearts out. The comradarie with all of the other fans rang true to scouse form- as there was laughter, kindness and love shown everywhere we turned. There were tiny babies and elderly grandparents around us- and it made it feel so special that EVERYONE wanted to be there. As the bus drove towards us, good old Milner started a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Allez Allez Allez’ and we sang at the tops of our voices, flags and scarves held high and proud. The tears were streaming down my face as the players passed us, it felt so good to sing ‘AND WE COME FROM LIVERPOOL’ to Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was closest to us on the bus. He actually looked quite overwhelmed himself, with a dreamy look in his eyes. His is one of my favourite stories; as he’s a true LFC fan himself, and I can’t imagine how good it must feel to play such an important part in making us all so happy, at such a young age. It was a beautiful experience… and then there was a treat at the end.
The man, the legend, Jurgen Klopp, was sat at the back of the bus. My boyfriend noticed and we all turned to him. As I stood there with both arms raised, crying my eyes out, singing ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ, Jurgen looked into my eyes, saw how much it all meant, and gave me a grateful nod, a cheeky smile, and a little wave! I screamed ‘THANK YOU KLOPP’ for bringing this team back to glory, and we continued to cheer as they drove further into the city centre. My boyfriend even got the whole thing recorded on his phone!
The amount of Liverpool fans that streamed the streets of our beautiful city is one of the greatest displays of culture I have seen for a long time. I knew I had to get a picture like this one above, as there is one very similar to it of a really young Kiayah at the 2005 parade, waving the flag just like this one. It is my dad’s most prized possession, and now I can give him another one! I feel so lucky to have already been to two Champions League Parade Days in my short 20 years of life, and I can only imagine how many more the future holds.
To all of the players, staff, and fans- thank you. Thank you for one of the best 24 hours of my life. For being accepting, loving, kind-hearted, genuine, passionate. For everything the club stands for- peace, justice, love, equality. For NEVER giving up. We, are Liverpool. THIS. MEANS. MORE.
And with this many fans, all over the world. We can truly say- YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE.