London - Fuelled by Mohamed Salah's
astonishing feats and inspired by Jurgen Klopp's tactical mastery,
Liverpool are ready to launch a new golden era after sealing their
return to the Champions League final.
For the first time in 11
years, Liverpool have reached the showpiece of Europe's elite club
competition as a dramatic 4-2 defeat against Roma in Wednesday's
semi-final second leg clinched an incredible 7-6 aggregate success.
was the perfect setting for Liverpool's return to splendour after the
Eternal City played host to the club's 1977 and 1984 European Cup
If Liverpool beat holders Real Madrid in the final in
Kiev on May 26, they will celebrate the first silverware of Jurgen
Klopp's three-year reign on the grandest stage of all.
getting his hands on the Champions League trophy would be concrete proof
his Red revolution has been worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
it would be fitting for the 50-year-old German to enjoy a breakthrough
moment at the same age as the godfather of the modern Liverpool.
Shankly was also 50 when the first truly iconic manager in Liverpool's
illustrious history served notice he had created a burgeoning dynasty on
Under the Scottish manager, Liverpool became English champions in 1964 after a 17-year gap.
won the title three times under Shankly and also collected two FA Cups
and a UEFA Cup - the club's first European trophy -- as his magnetic
personality and fierce will to win fulfilled his dream of turning the
club into "a bastion of invincibility".
Building on the foundations put in place by Shankly, Liverpool went on to dominate Europe for the next decade.
thought of emulating that generational success at such a historic club
lured Klopp - who possesses the same charismatic character as Shankly
- to follow in his footsteps at Liverpool in 2015.
Winning Liverpool's sixth European Cup would rank Klopp alongside Anfield immortals Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish.
Clemence, the legendary Liverpool goalkeeper who played under Shankly,
sees some uncanny similarities between Klopp and his former boss.
"I thought Shankly was a one-off, but then I'd have to say that Klopp is the nearest thing," Clemence said.
"The relationship Klopp has with the players and fans, it is exactly what Shankly had.
"He pulled the club together so it was one strong unit and Klopp has revived that." Regardless
of whether he leaves the Ukraine empty-handed, Klopp knows this season
has confirmed Liverpool's emergence as genuine contenders at last.
have gone 28 years without winning the English title, a barren run that
has often seen them written off as a faded force rendered obsolete by
the vast wealth of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Liverpool last won the Champions League in 2005, their miraculous
comeback from three goals down in the final against AC Milan obscured
the pedestrian nature of Rafael Benitez's side.
Aside from Steven
Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Jamie Carragher, the heroes of Istanbul were
largely inconsistent journeymen. Liverpool finished a whopping 37 points
behind Premier League champions Chelsea that year.
captained Liverpool to that 2005 victory, said Klopp has made the
difference: "This manager has got them flying, if they go one step
further this could be the start of something special. I think they're on
the verge of something really good."
Klopp's men might be 21
points adrift of Manchester City this season but the gap between
third-placed Liverpool and the champions appears far less daunting than
it did 13 years ago.
Liverpool are one of only two teams to
inflict a league defeat on City this season, a 4-3 victory at Anfield
that saw Pep Guardiola's defence torn apart by the rampant Reds.
more encouragingly, Liverpool overwhelmed City in the Champions League
quarter-finals, blitzing them 3-0 at Anfield and then giving a
masterclass in game management to take the second leg 2-1.
goals and 15 assists in 49 appearances in all competitions, Egypt
winger Salah has been the driving force behind Liverpool's renaissance.
by Chelsea after struggling in his first spell in English football,
Salah has been reborn under Klopp since joining from Roma for £34 million last year.
The German has astutely deployed the
majestic 25-year-old in a role that allows him to do damage from both
wide and central areas as part of a three-pronged attack alongside
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Crucially, Klopp's decision to
reinvest the cash from Philippe Coutinho's transfer to Barcelona on
powerful centre-back Virgil van Dijk has added much-needed solidity to
Klopp has already proved he can overthrow an
established superpower after leading Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga
title despite the constant threat from Bayern Munich.
his team's domestic supremacy is next season's target but for now Klopp,
Salah and the rest of the Liverpool heroes can dream of reigning
supreme in Europe.