- Roberto Firmino reflects on securing Liverpool’s first world title
- Virgil van Dijk speaks about writing a new chapter in the club's storied history
- Trent Alexander-Arnold talks on a unique achievement for his hometown club
English champions: 18 times. European champions: six times. World champions: never... at least not until today.
Liverpool, one of football’s most historical and successful clubs, finally have no more worlds left to conquer.
That this side have done what no other achieved in its glorious past says a lot about the names pulling on their iconic red shirts. A smorgasbord of both global and local talent have fused together into what can now be officially called the best team on the planet.
“To be world champions is incredible,” the man who handed them that title, Roberto Firmino, told FIFA.com, as the echoing chants of victory leaked beneath the dressing room door. “It’s a unique feeling. Wearing the badge of world champions for the next year will be amazing.”
After just shy of 100 minutes of nerve-jangling intensity, with Liverpool and Flamengo doing all they could to tease open their respective opposition, a lightning counter and a flash of brilliance from the Reds’ No9 sliced open the resolute defence of his South American countrymen.
It’s a goal that will go down in history as adding a new trophy to their famous Champions Wall. “The Champions Wall is massive at Melwood, so we’re excited to go back and hopefully see it,” explained full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who grew up just a short walk from Anfield.
“I think this may be the only trophy the club hasn’t won, so to be able to do it today is huge for us, putting ourselves in the history books and making sure we’re remembered as a really good Liverpool team. It’s an exciting time to be a Liverpool player.”
His defensive comrade Virgil van Dijk concurred when taking in the gravity of the achievement. “It’s something that we’ve never had before with Liverpool,” the titanic Dutchman said. “We’ve written history with this squad and I’m very proud of that. It was very important for us to finish what we came here to do. It was a tough two games but we did it.”
The clash with Flamengo, “a typical final” in Firmino’s words, was an intense encounter from start to finish. Both sides were expertly drilled, ruthlessly organised and packed with individuals giving everything to get their hands on the trophy. “It’s the best of the best this tournament, so we knew what we were coming in to,” Alexander-Arnold admitted.
“We won it late in both games and it just shows the quality that we’ve been up against. It was exciting for us to be part of this tournament and we’ll be really proud to go back with this trophy.”
And what faced them was almost undoubtedly the best side in Brazil and South America. For every searching pass aimed at Firmino, Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah which stretched Flamengo’s back line, a weaving run from Bruno Henrique would often come in return to test Liverpool's.
The return of Van Dijk, having missed the Monterrey encounter through illness, and Alexander-Arnold to the starting line-up was vital for Jurgen Klopp’s side to maintain their balance in defence, with the knock-on effects being felt right up the pitch. But, after a shaky start, Flamengo held their own with the outfit leading the charge at the top of the Premier League.
But it was the man who played the role of super-sub in beating the Mexicans in stoppage time whose starting return made the crucial difference. Having spurned an effort over in the first minute, then rattled the inside of the post after the break, his neat turn and finish got the job done in Doha.
“That’s why I’m here,” the all-too-often selfless forward said with his dazzling smile. His historic goal in Qatar will also be why his name has pride of place in the history books of one of football’s most celebrated clubs.