AS THE late spring sun shone down and the deafening sounds of the crowds around me echoed through the narrow streets off Anfield road, it suddenly felt like we had rediscovered what it is to support Liverpool.
Lining the roads shrouded in smoke, we were reminding ourselves of our unrivalled ability to stir and scare those who might have fancied their chances, only to be met by a haze of pyrotechnics and a fan base reinvigorated by the Europa League run they’re on.
Amidst the billowing red mist, there was scaffolding as high as houses packed with young reds with their arms risen and their fists clenched – each losing their voices for Liverpool. There was an aggression and relentlessness emanating from the fans like we’ve not seen for some time that continued into the stands and spilled over onto the pitch.
We’ve embraced this UEFA cup campaign and have been rewarded with moments that evoke the kind of feelings and fervor that I’m sure were felt against St Etienne in ’77 or Chelsea in ’05. These are the beginnings of a resurgence dressed in red, led by Jürgen Klopp.
“It was an atmosphere where everybody, except our supporters, believed it was meant to be,”
– Thomas Tuccel.
You see, it wasn’t just that we had waltzed past United. It wasn’t that Dortmund had been defeated at the death in the most dramatic of circumstances by the most unlikely of heroes. Nor was it the unbridled display of emotion on the face of Daniel Sturridge as he put Villarreal to the sword in the second leg.
It was that the famous Man United were pictured gazing in awe at the Kop during You’ll Never Walk Alone. It was that at 3-2, World cup winner Mats Hummels held a huddle with his teammates because they were rattled, disorientated and deteriorating.
“This is an occasion to be celebrated. In no way whatsoever will we be affected negatively by the atmosphere, if anything we will be affected positively and galvanised by it,”
– Villarreal boss Marcelino García Toral.
What you have not experienced you will not understand, Marcelino, because the yellow submarine was sunk before it had even reached the ground.
This competition has reignited a feeling within us reminiscent of ’05. We’re now singing Bob Marley, forging a bond with players previously written off and dispelling our own doubts that Anfield’s atmosphere cannot be what it once was. We’re having fun again. The most fun.
Jürgen Klopp is reincarnating Liverpool in his own image as a club that feeds and thrives on a brand of football that is built on emotion. There’s a romanticism to the idea of the reds on their adventures in Europe and this has returned, while that midas touch of madness that separates us from the others has been restored.
It’s not often the most desirable of two cousins is the one known for having big ears and while Anfield outsiders and Europa League detractors will argue against its significance in comparison to the Champions League, we’re forcing our way into the eyeline of Europe’s elite with our performances – both on and off the pitch.
This is a consolation competition? Nah, we’ve demanded centre stage.
We’re a club steeped in European existence but starved of any tangible success over the past decade. It’s time my generation were rewarded – allow us our St Etienne or Chelsea. Football is about defining matches, moments and gathering cups in May and now this crop of players have the opportunity to add another to the club’s collection.
More importantly, they’ll hope this is their first of a new, more illustrious era. Tonight is the night they leave their own lasting memory at our club. Do not let anyone tell you that football is about anything other than nights like this.
Never mind a place among Europe’s top echelon next season, a win against Sevilla consolidates moments like Dortmund as one of the greatest in our history. Give us that.
While the process of rejuvenation has already begun both in the stands and on the pitch, there’s a feeling that a win tonight at the end of Klopp’s first season will be the foundation for new beginnings.
It’s there for all to see. Win the UEFA cup and the message from Liverpool reads loud and clear.
The Reds have reawakened and are coming up the hill, boys.