THE ANFIELD MIRACLE – A MEMORY THAT WILL LAST LONG
It was some day in May. A Champions League midnight. A midnight in which I was tensed but neither had no hope nor disbelief. Yes, I’m talking about that miraculous night of Liverpool against Barcelona.
As a true fanboy of the Reds – even though they had a three-goal lead over us from the first leg – I still had a belief within me that the lads could pull it off in the second leg.
I was anxious as Mo and Firmino were out injured, but that didn’t let me off. I had that belief – like other fanboys – that the Reds could qualify to the Champions League final.
I was astonished, yet proud, by reminiscing those words from Jürgen Klopp before that night: “We want to celebrate the Champions League campaign, either with a proper finish or another goal. That is the plan: just try. If we can do it, wonderful. If not, then fail in the most beautiful way.” Those were his words. Nothing more, nothing less.
At a time when two star players of our team were out injured in an important night where we had a three-goal deficit, it is certain than the players may have no hope. But their hope was restored by their fans at Anfield. You could see that all around the stadium that night.
That night approached. A crucial night. I came back from my school with all the negativity filled in my mind by my schoolmates as we were on the brink of losing and as I was the only fan of Liverpool in my class. A feeling no one else can experience.
I sat down in front of my TV on the couch with Coke and Chips. All set for a show. A miraculous one. But who thought that miracles work against Messi & Co?
The ref blew his whistle and as he did so, I prayed to God – like all other passionate fanboys out there – and made a request to him that I’ll study hard for the Boards if Liverpool won the CL. Such were my prayers. And, with a strong belief in my heart, I watched the game.
The Reds started their business right at the seventh minute when a Jordi Alba error led to a goal from Origi. I wanted to scream out of joy but I couldn’t. The others were sleeping in the next room. Hence, I cooled down as the game restarted.
Then followed many saves pulled off by Alison. And I dozed off, bored, with less hope than before. I was woken up by the end of the first half by the ref’s whistle. Still a two-goal deficit for a miraculous comeback.
And so the second half began, with Gini Wijnaldum coming on and with the Kop chanting ‘LI-VERPOOL’, ‘LI-VERPOOL’ from the stands. I was surprised by the heck of a confidence the fans had there. But hey, nobody knew that a super-sub was brought in by Klopp.
50th minute approached. I saw Trent deep inside the final third. I was astounded by the fact that no one was marking a decent player like him. As expected, he produced a marvelous cross which was poked in to the back of the net by Gini. Although I couldn’t resist, I still kept my cool, keeping in mind one-goal deficit. But they didn’t let me keep my cool.
A couple of minutes after the second goal, Shaqiri produced a superb cross from the left flank, which was headed in beautifully, top bins, by the super-sub himself: Gini Wijnaldum.
This time, I couldn’t resist. I jumped out of joy, slightly screaming, and ran all over my room as much as I could, until I was tired enough. I pinched myself a zillion times to ensure that it wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t.
A brace of goals from Gini settled things down, including me. I could not understand clearly, but everyone in the crowd was chanting with ‘Wijnaldum’ in their chants. Who among the haters even thought that this was possible? I was still thinking, even today, that what would’ve happened if it wasn’t for Gini and…Trent Alexander-Arnold!!
78th minute. Trent again deep in the final third, marked by Sergi Roberto, trying to produce a cross. But, it deflected off him and went for a corner. I stretched for a moment as it was a corner, before Trent produced a quick, delicious pass to Origi, who finished it off emphatically.
The crowd turned insane. The players turned insane. I turned insane. And I hope you know what I mean by insane. Insane in the sense happy. Extremely happy. Smiles were there all around the stadium, and the fans started chanting YNWA, as loud and beautiful as they could. Trent, guys, did the unimaginable.
Even though I was sleepy, I waited till the ref blew the final whistle, to enjoy the scenes that took place last ten minutes of the game. You could see that there was no chance that Barcelona would score another goal. It was certain. Such were the moments. Absolutely beautiful.
I had a whale of a time and was on cloud nine. I mean, come on: it’s been 15 years since we last won the CL. Who wouldn’t be excited as much as I do?
Even today, I still couldn’t believe that the lads could pull this off against the likes of Messi and Suarez. To all the Barcelona fans out there, I never meant that they bottled, of course not. They just didn’t have the luck. This was certainly a miracle that I will surely remember for a lifetime. The one that I will never forget. The Anfield miracle.
Pranav Vinod currently lives in Oman. He completed his 10th grade from Indian School, Darsait, Muscat.