Tuesday 15 October 2019

Roy Curtis: 'Jurgen Klopp, a manager who dreams in technicolour, a fountain of imaginative thought, brilliantly cemented his legacy'

'The Liverpool manager danced and thrilled, a Vesuvius of Merseyside delirium erupted, the red tribe dazzled by the Infinity Stone that has made their world complete'

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Jordan Henderson after winning the Champions League. Photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Jordan Henderson after winning the Champions League. Photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Roy Curtis

And so, having triumphantly refurbished Liverpool’s soul, drenched Anfield in a buoyant, booming Niagara of optimism, Jurgen Klopp now gifts his adopted city their Infinity Stone.

On an eternal night, Madrid succumbed to a volcanic crimson eruption, a rupture of blood-red delirium, a coruscating Vesuvian flare of Merseyside ecstasy.

With the snap of a Spanish flamenco dancer, Mo Salah thrust the early, dagger into Tottenham’s rib-cage.

A penalty awarded after just 24 seconds that would yield the Egyptian his 27th goal of the season.  And redemption for his callous cutting down by Sergio Ramos in last year’s showpiece.

In pistol-whipping Tottenham with his left-footed strike, Salah transported Liverpool’s vast hordes to wonderland.

Some 85 minutes later, Divock Origi, the man who stole the semi-final stage from Lionel Messi, read the last rites to another opponent.

Liverpool celebrate with the trophy after winning the Champions League. Photo: REUTERS/Carl Recine
Liverpool celebrate with the trophy after winning the Champions League. Photo: REUTERS/Carl Recine

And now the travelling Kop were laughing and sobbing, shaking beneath the force of elation beyond price. 

They embraced and gave thanks and sang their hymns in a beautiful, unforgettable symphony of naked, life-affirming emotion.

Call it deliverance.

Some 1,332 days after his arrival in England, after six losing finals in his managerial career, Klopp delivered something imperishable:  A first trophy with Liverpool, an achievement that will endure until death swallows time.

The House of Shankly is no longer perched at the lip of history: Joyously they have crossed the threshold.

Few will care that it was not one of Liverpool’s more stirring performances.

Klopp had half-joked on Friday about holding the world record for semi-final wins; here, with a flash of that blinding smile, he consummated his relationship with glory.

A manager who dreams in technicolour, a fountain of imaginative thought, brilliantly cemented his legacy.

The Liverpool team Klopp has constructed play with a sunny, high-tempo, one-for-all interdependence.

Few of their players arrived at this stage via life’s red carpet.

Andy Robertson was playing for Queens Park in Scotland’s third tier six years ago; here he was magnificent, bounding forward with the murderous intent of a Caledonian Roberto Carlos.

Joel Matip, once a nervy, insubstantial presence, no longer fidgets or thrashes, his self-belief transformed by being wrapped in the comfort blanket of Virgil Van Dijk’s class.

A week shy of 25 years since Paul McGrath famously snuffed out Roberto Baggio at USA ’94, Van Dijk effortlessly extinguished Harry Kane’s flame while distributing and gliding like a 21st century Franz Beckenbauer. 

Under Klopp, winning 97 Premier League points, miraculously breaking Barca, losing just one league game all season, they have acquired the aura of a team for whom nothing is impossible.

Mauricio Pochettino had his team fire-walking on hot stones, and breaking arrow tips with their throat, but it was Liverpool who located the universal energy the Argentine was pursuing.

It came via another of those ball to arm moments (Sissoko's transgression a penalty according to the letter of the law, if maddening to old pros) that have been a feature of this season’s competition.

Liverpool's Rhian Brewster, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, team mates and staff celebrate winning the Champions League. REUTERS/Susana Vera
Liverpool's Rhian Brewster, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, team mates and staff celebrate winning the Champions League. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Hugo Lloris had saved his last three penalties, but, if Salah did not find the corner, the sheer velocity of his strike won the argument.  Origi would add the exclamation mark.

The rewards are immense: A sixth European Cup, more than Barcelona or Bayern, twice as many as Man U, a greater haul than the rest of the Premier League combined.

The euphoria that saturated the Spanish capital confirmed Klopp as destiny’s child.  A charismatic, upbeat German perfectly in tune with Merseyside’s sense of itself.

An astonishing army of Liverpool fans, upwards of 100,000, had invaded one of the world’s great football cities.

In the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta Del Sol, they drank and sang and lounged in the mid-summer heat.  Madrid’s great squares were transformed into scarlet glow worms.

Pochettino, in preferring Kane to Moura, was hoping to bring Harry’s Game to Broadway.

In the manager’s mind, Kane’s 65 goals in his last 87 games trumped magical Moura's Amsterdam hat-trick or fears about the Englishman’s sharpness post injury.

But Kane was a peripheral, ineffective figure.

If both semi-finals yielded spellbinding classics featuring mesmerising comebacks, this, for 45 minutes at least, was an edgy, lower octane confrontation.

Liverpool were prepared to gift Tottenham possession (the Reds had less of the ball in the opening 45 than in any half this season), lay a trap for their counter-attackers to pounce

There was a sharp post-interval upgrade, Spurs locating a tad more offensive menace.

When Lucas Moura was introduced on 65 minutes, it felt like a last throw of the dice by Pochettino.

As the finish line came into view and the tension reached suffocating levels Liverpool sub, James Milner, came within centimetres of doubling the advantage.

Then came Tottenham's surge, but, where Lorius Karius infamously buckled a year ago, Allison placed a defiant Brazilian wall, first in front of Son, then, Moura and, finally, Christian Eriksen.

And then, with three minutes on the clock, Origi fired the killshot.

Klopp danced and thrilled, a Vesuvius of Merseyside delirium erupted, the red tribe dazzled by the Infinity Stone that has made their world complete.

Online Editors

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