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Liverpool proved familiar jibe wrong with Champions League glory

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With a shift, a swivel and a shot, the result was confirmed. Liverpool were champions of Europe for a sixth time.

Divock Origi wheeled away, the stadium erupted and the tears of joy started to flow. The Reds were now just seconds away from being confirmed as the winners of the 2018/19 Champions League.



It could have all been so different.



It would have been so easy to have wilted in the stifling, disorientating Madrid heat on June 1 last year for Liverpool.



After finishing their Premier League season on May 12, the Reds, like Tottenham, would be made to wait three weeks for the biggest game of the campaign.

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But while Spurs were unencumbered by the weight of heartache and history, Jurgen Klopp 's squad had the best part of the month to do nothing but stew, replaying the outcome of the previous year when they were beaten in dramatic circumstances by Real Madrid.

The tears had barely dried and the scars were yet to fully heal from that night inside the NSC Olimpiyskiy. The pressure was on for the Reds.

Spurs had nothing to lose in their first-ever Champions League final. In contrast, Klopp's Liverpool had it all on the line as they entered the coliseum.

Three weeks after picking up 97 points and only finishing with silver in the Premier League, though, Klopp and his players put aside their disappointment emphatically to win the biggest trophy in club football.

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Rather than shrinking on the big stage after the harrowing events of Kiev, Liverpool rose to the occasion and dispatched Spurs for the third time that season.

At the fourth attempt, Klopp was successful in a final as Reds manager, casting aside his own personal frustration by leading his team to glory.

From doubters to believers and all that.

Finishing last season without anything to show for their efforts would have been a stiff kick to the gut for this Liverpool team.

Their efforts so richly deserved to be tangibly rewarded, so the fact that Jordan Henderson was able to hoist the European Cup aloft into the Madrid air was right, just and fitting.

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And while the immediate celebrations that followed cared little for what the success would mean in the long term, the victory in Madrid one year ago has seen this team bask in its after-glow this time around.

After the pain of falling just short in League Cup, Europa League and Champions League finals under Klopp, success in the Spanish capital proved to be cathartic.

It brushed off those near falls and close calls and convinced the players themselves that they were not destined for 'nearly-men' status.

No longer would they be the team who watched on when the winners' medals were handed out. That was their fate no longer, thanks to the 2-0 win in Spain.

The win showed them that the game's biggest prizes could be won. Here, being paraded around the Wanda Metropolitano, was the gleaming, unmistakable proof.

“It was so important to get off the mark and win that first trophy and it was massive for us as a group," James Milner said last month.

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"It’s always important to win that first one and we managed to get the Super Cup and the World Championship this year and it’d be nice to add more.

“But it was big to get over the line and add that first one together as a team and that then gives you all the tools to go on and push on, and hopefully we can win more."

For those involved in Kiev just over a year earlier - the same squad who missed out on the Premier League by a single point to Manchester City - events in Madrid were therapeutic.

And after being empowered by that success, Liverpool have only continued to rise.

Dismissing their previous final form under Klopp, the Reds then went on to lift the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul in August before adding the first-ever Club World Cup to the haul in Qatar in December.

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Those trophies were added along the way as the Reds continued to run away with the Premier League. A 25-point advantage now leaves them just half-a-dozen away from a first title in 30 years.

Liverpool have nine games to claim those points and are now surely just a matter of weeks away before the biggest trophy in English football is neatly placed alongside the Champions League in Anfield's bulging trophy room.

It was one hot night in Madrid that was the catalyst for what Reds fans have witnessed this season. That will be Madrid's lasting legacy.


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