You convince yourself that you support the good guys.
You convince yourself, or perhaps more rightly, they convince you, that they’re right and everybody else is wrong. They’re not the baddies. In the end, they will be the ultimate victors.
They’ve convinced me that they are right and everyone else is wrong. That every setback, every loss, every stumble and every disappointment is simply a bump in the road on the magical voyage that ends in glorious victory. It ends with all of us being proven right. All of us winning, not just the Champions League, but winning football, winning at life.
I don’t need vindication or justification for supporting these lads. Nor should anyone else.
They are already role models and they are already heroes. Their on-the-pitch qualities have been discussed at length and at this stage are self-evident. But it’s everything else that makes them truly special. The way they carry themselves, the way they and everybody in the club goes about their business, their lack of ulterior motives, their disregard for the tabloid media and opposition fans’ opinions, and more than anything, just how much they care.
I watched the final in a bar in Galway last year. After the final whistle, a guy who must have been in his 40s came up to me and started with the predictable verbal onslaught on Karius, calling him shite and listing off potential replacements for the ill-fated German keeper.
He didn’t ‘get it’, as conceited and narcassistic as that may sound. He’ll never understand the point of all this.
All you can ever ask from a football club is for everyone involved to give absolutely everything they can towards a common goal. For them to care as much as you care. These lads care. In fact, maybe they want it even more than you do.
This is important, Liverpool play in a Champions League final on Saturday and no one should feel like a win is needed to justify every decision and every action that has been made on this journey. Neither, the players, the manager, the coaching staff, the board nor the supporters should feel like everything was in vain if Liverpool lose to Tottenham.
But I want it more than anything, we want it more than anything and the players want it more than anything. I want to hear the final whistle go and chaos to ensue. I want Mohamed Salah and James Milner to collapse to their knees and for tears of joy to flow. I want to see red confetti cover the surface of the Wanda Metropolitano shortly after 10 o’clock. I want to see Jordan Henderson lift club football’s most iconic trophy high above his head to the dismay of those who have slandered him repeatedly. I want every member of this squad to get the chance to stand triumphant on an open-top bus on Sunday afternoon. I want our most recent result to be a win in a European Cup final for the entirety of the summer.
I want it for them. They deserve it more than anything else. Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal fans will all travel to European finals this week but none of them will get to cheer on eleven lads who want it more than themselves in the stands. But for Liverpool, it’s different. It’s always been different.
It’s incredible to think this club have only won one European Cup in the last 34 years. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been to a dozen finals this century, never mind since 1984.
It is another reminder of how good this Liverpool side are, and how rarely you get to witness your own team do something like this.
Most seasons, we as football fans go in with similar hopes and expectations for the season. Perform consistently well and win silverware. Liverpool have only done that twice in the last 29 years.
If they do it on Saturday, it should go down in LFC folklore as one of the great seasons and Jurgen Klopp should rightly have a place among the best managers to have reigned over the club.
If they do it on Saturday, you’ll see the goals thousands of times over the next 20 years. Think Smicer vs Milan and Gerrard vs West Ham. Goals made eternal, men made immortal.
They have already won for me. They have done everything you could ask from them. They have given every ounce of effort to the cause. Any team can inspire hope amongst a fanbase, but Liverpool have inspired belief.
They have created elation where there was once tension, shown quality where there was once mediocrity.
They don’t have to prove themselves to anyone, and they no longer need to earn anybody else’s respect.
No final will define them and silverware won’t be the making of them. They are already defined and they are already made.
They don’t need it, but they deserve it.
What a set of lads. Appreciate them, adore them, stick with them.