Liverpool FC’s beaten heroes could already laugh again as they rode on the red double-decker bus – and Jürgen Klopp was right in the middle of it.
“We are Liverpool” and the club motto “You’ll Never Walk Alone” were emblazoned in large letters on the side – and it was more fitting than ever on Sunday afternoon. Thousands of fans cheered Klopp and his players less than 24 hours after losing the Champions League final against Real Madrid. The two national cup triumphs were celebrated.
In Madrid, the party of the winners started shortly afterwards. The team around former world champion Toni Kroos dedicated the cup to the Virgin of Almudena in the cathedral, wrapped a traditional club scarf around the stone goddess Kybele and drove through the streets lined by thousands at 30 degrees to the Bernabéu stadium. There, the big celebration with fireworks took place in the evening, to which every club member had free admission.
Kroos had already celebrated on the pitch with his family on Saturday evening, and Klopp had almost defiantly praised the parade back home. The emotional worlds of the two German protagonists in a final of the royal class that was also memorable because of major problems between fans and stewards were not as far apart as could be assumed. Kroos quickly got over his brief moment of frustration in the ZDF interview with “shitty questions” on Saturday evening.
A special triumph for Kroos
The former World Cup winner gushed about his fifth Champions League triumph, which was “a very special one”, as the father of Leon (8), Amelie (5) and Fin (3) said after Real’s 1-0 win. “I have already won the Champions League once or twice. But I’ve always said I want all the children to be in the stadium for once. That was the case today. And it’s impossible to describe how nice it is.”
He said it was very special “that my youngest was also there. He hasn’t won a Champions League trophy yet. Now he has one, too. So it’s complete,” said Kroos. And anyway. Even the fifth time around, he said, a Champions League title “doesn’t become the norm”. Kroos also posted a group picture with wife Jessica, brother Felix, the children and the handle pot.
For the trade paper “Marca”, which is close to Real, the record winner’s 14th triumph in Europe’s top division was “celebrated like never before”. Because, in contrast to the usual understanding of the royals, hardly anyone had thought it possible beforehand. Kroos admitted “quite honestly” that “I didn’t expect it before the season. It’s hard to put into words.”
Among the eight Madrilenians to join Cristiano Ronaldo as a five-time handle pot winner, Kroos, who retired from the national team last summer, is the only one who also became a world champion. And he celebrated this triumph not only with his family. After the final whistle, he lay intimately embraced with David Alaba on the pitch for a long time. He had won his first title in the top division with FC Bayern alongside the Austrian in 2013.
Special title for Ancelotti too
For coach Carlo Ancelotti, now the sole record holder among coaches in the most important European Cup with four victories, this success was also special. “It was the hardest title, for sure,” said the Italian: “Because nobody thought we could win it.” For Kroos, the former Bayern coach played a huge part in the success “because he knows how to manage a group and get it behind him like no other”.
Klopp also managed to do that impressively this year. But the balance of what was actually such a strong season was considerably tarnished within a week. But the former Mainz and Dortmund player spread the mood. His motivation was clear: After an exceptional season, in which the championship and the top division titles were missed by a narrow margin, the players should not go on holiday in a bad mood.
Klopp and Liverpool celebrate anyway
“We celebrate that we played an extraordinary season,” Klopp said. “The two competitions we didn’t win, we lost by the smallest difference imaginable: by one point and 0-1.” He said he told his players in the dressing room “that I already feel the pride. But I was the only one. The boys need longer for that.”