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'Klopp made us believe' - Liverpool captain Henderson reflects on remarkable Champions League comeback

7:00 AM EDT 5/8/19
Jordan Henderson Liverpool 2018-19
The Reds are heading to Madrid for the European showpiece after seeing off Barcelona amid another incredible Anfield atmosphere

For Jordan Henderson there is no doubt.

“It has to be the top,” said the Liverpool captain, unable to keep the smile from his face. “Just an unbelievable night.”

It was more than an hour since the final whistle at Anfield, since the end of the most remarkable night of European football you could ever hope to witness.

Barcelona were long gone. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho had left with barely a sideways glance. They headed back to Catalunya shell-shocked, dumb-struck by what had happened.

For Henderson and his team-mates, the mood could not have been different. Liverpool’s players had stayed on the pitch at the final whistle, to be hugged by their manager and serenaded by their supporters. The greatest night in Anfield’s long and illustrious history? It just might be.

“From start to finish I thought the lads were amazing,” Henderson would say. “The atmosphere was amazing.”

Liverpool had arrived, naturally, as underdogs. But the 3-0 advantage Barcelona had brought with them from the first leg would be wiped out within 56 ferocious minutes. And when Divock Origi netted in front of the Kop, 11 minutes from the end of the 90, the Reds were on their way to the final.

“I think a lot of people would have written us off,” Henderson said. “But we have a belief in this team. We knew that if we gave everything, you know never know what can happen in football. We said we would fight for everything right to the end

“I think we proved quite a few people wrong tonight, We showed that if you never give up and you keep trying you can produce special things and create a special night.”

He’s got that right. Liverpool had been unlucky to lose by three at Camp Nou a week ago, but they tore into Barcelona from the first whistle here. They were ahead through Origi inside seven minutes and never looked back. Gini Wijnaldum, a substitute, scored twice in three second-half minutes before Origi’s late winner. It was frenzied.

Afterwards, a beaming Jurgen Klopp spoke of “big hearts” and “genius” moments. The triumph belonged to the manager as much as his players or fans.

“I think he believed because of the talk he gave before the game before we came to the stadium,” Henderson said. “I think the players could see that the manager believed which helps us believe in what he said to us. 

“He said we can enjoy the night and maybe tell the grandkids one day it was a special night. 

“The manager has ingrained that belief into us - no matter what happens you keep fighting right until the end until the final whistle goes. That is what we have done all season and we will continue to do that on Sunday [when Liverpool face Wolves in their final Premier League game] and in the final as well.

“We have two big games to look forward to and we just have to keep with that belief and that spirit. Then we will be OK.”

As for Henderson himself, he can look forward to joining Emlyn Hughes, John McGovern and Steven Gerrard as Englishmen to have captained clubs in two European Cup finals. The 28-year-old continues to make a mockery of those who doubt his credentials at the highest level.

“I quite enjoy it now,” he smiled. “I’ve got used to it!

“But is only a [good] display from me because of my team-mates. It is nothing to do with one person. Yes I contributed but so did everyone else who played. It was everybody together.

“For me throughout my career I have always wanted to prove people wrong and that will never change. I will continue to do that until I finish playing football. 

“Football is like that anyway. It changes that quickly. Whether you are winning trophies or not there are always questions asked, someone else saying you cannot do this or that. So there are always things that you want to prove. I want to improve as a footballer and keep getting better to contribute to the team to be successful”

For now though, he can reflect on a job well done. Liverpool are into the Champions League final. Whatever happens in Madrid on June 1, Tuesday night will be remembered forever.

“It was just an amazing night,” he finished. “I was honoured to be a part of it.”