It seems hard to believe that Liverpool stalwart Lucas Leiva has yet to represent his team at Wembley, and yet, that's the case. Brought in from the Brazilian side Gremio in 2007, Lucas has had a tumultuous Liverpool career over his more than 300 appearances for the club. After losing Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano to Spanish sides, Lucas began to earn the trust and respect of the Liverpool faithful in his role as defensive midfielder around 2010.
It's unfair that he, of all players, has yet to make it to Wembley, but football is fickle and so are ACL injuries. However, this Sunday may finally change all that. In 2011-2012, Lucas was having the best season of his Liverpool career before it ended prematurely with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury that sidelined him for the better part of a year. While his teammates made three trips to Wembley that season, winning twice and losing once, Lucas was forced to watch from the crowd.
Discussing that experience, Lucas said:
"I’ve played at the Maracana a few times but never at Wembley," Lucas said.
"I’ve been at Liverpool so long. To have that chance would be amazing. I have been dreaming about it to be honest.
"It was hard for me. I remember when we were on our way to the stadium I was a little bit down because I wanted to be on the pitch.
"I remember Stevie sending me a text which said: ‘Don’t worry, we will get here again'."
Lucas would later be awarded a winner's medal commemorating his help in getting the team through the quarterfinals of the League Cup. "I didn’t get a medal in the ceremony after the game, but the club arranged for me to get one. I think Kenny organised it," he said. "I have the medal in my house and I always look at it. I might not have played the final but my first medal for the club is important. Of course people remember who played in the final but I played until the quarter-finals so I was involved. I felt I deserved it."
Gerrard was right, Liverpool did make it make to Wembley after that season, just once, last year when Brendan Rodgers's Reds fell to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final. Unfortunately, though Lucas fought his way back into Rodgers's plans for the team after having fallen out of favor with the manager for much of the season, he suffered a thigh injury in the training leading up to the match. Another big game missed because of bad luck.
Lucas is a player who always seems to inspire strong opinions from supporters, either for or against. However, what has never been in doubt by anyone is his commitment to this team. He's proven it again and again, choosing to stay at Anfield, even when managers, such as Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers, attempted to push him out. He continually steps up when the team needs him to, filling in wherever a manager asks. That has included playing as an attacking central midfielder under Brendan Rodgers and, more recently, as a makeshift center-back for Jürgen Klopp.
It's unclear where, or even if, Lucas Leiva will play on Sunday. Tactics trump sentiment when it comes to winning finals, but I still have my fingers crossed for a Lucas golazo this season, and what better time for it to happen than on Sunday?