A major but unheralded factor in the Liverpool’s success in recent times can be chalked up to manager, Jürgen Klopp’s focus on recruiting strong personalities and natural born leaders into the squad.
Although the elder statesmen of the team in Jordan Henderson and James Milner are formally captain and vice-captain, the side is chockful of international captains including the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum for the Netherlands, Joe Gomez up until recently for the England U21s, Andy Robertson for Scotland and Henderson for England; in addition to players such as Mohamed Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri who carry the full weight of their national team’s expectations on their shoulders.
A club packed full of these “mentality monsters” as Klopp has dubbed them pushed each other to a record points haul and a sixth European Cup last term, feats that have garnered the Reds six of the 55 nominations in this year’s FIFPro World XI.
Robertson, for one has staked his claim as arguably Europe’s premier left back and expressed pride in the honor of being the first Scot in the 15 year history of the prize to be nominated:
“I made the joke saying I’m one of 55 — probably the biggest squad I have ever been involved in,” laughed Robertson speaking to the Daily Mail on his FIFPro nomination.
“It’s obviously a massive thing for me but let’s see if I get in the XI or not. Even to be nominated alongside the players there is a special feeling. Also to have six of your [Liverpool] team-mates there is really good.
“Let’s see how many of us get in the team — and a lot of the other Liverpool boys could probably have been there, too. That shows you how good a season we had last year.”
The 25-year-old is one of the many Reds away on international duty, with the Scot looking to lead his side to the top of the Euro 2020 qualifying group in an upcoming match against Russia.
“Everyone in the squad wants Scotland to be successful,” Robertson continued. “We are all pushing in the right direction.
“I am the captain and a leader and, if people look to me, then I will try to push that direction.
“We need to start trying to get the results that we think we deserve after the efforts we have been putting in.
“We know how big it is and so do they. We need to show up, put in performances like we have been doing at club level and all come together.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe we could achieve things. It’s a massive honour playing for your country but we need to try to get back to big tournaments. Too long has passed.”
Regardless of the outcome of today’s match, Scotland will have another shot to fulfill their Euro qualification dreams in a play off match next year due to finishing top of their Nations League group.
“It’s not even come into my mind,” the full back continued regarding the backup option. “I still don’t really know how the Nations League works! I know we won the group and we’ve got a play-off but I don’t know who that will be against or whatever. We are in a qualifying campaign and I would much rather qualify this way.”
The 55 Nominees for FIFPro World XI
Alisson Becker (Brazil, Liverpool FC) David de Gea (Spain, Manchester United) Ederson Moraes (Brazil, Manchester City) Jan Oblak (Slovenia, Atletico Madrid) Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany, FC Barcelona)
Jordi Alba (Spain, FC Barcelona)Trent Alexander-Arnold (England, Liverpool FC) Daniel Alves (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain/Sao Paulo) Joao Cancelo (Portugal, Juventus/Manchester City) Daniel Carvajal (Spain, Real Madrid) Giorgio Chiellini (Italy, Juventus) Virgil van Dijk (Holland, Liverpool FC) Diego Godin (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid/Inter) Joshua Kimmich (Germany, Bayern Munich) Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal, Napoli) Aymeric Laporte (France, Manchester City) Matthijs de Ligt (The Netherlands, Ajax Amsterdam/Juventus) Gerard Pique (Spain, FC Barcelona) Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid) Andrew Robertson (Scotland, Liverpool FC) Alex Sandro (Brazil, Juventus) Thiago Silva (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain) Raphael Varane (France, Real Madrid) Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid) Kyle Walker (England, Manchester City)
Sergio Busquets (Spain, FC Barcelona)Casemiro (Brazil, Real Madrid) Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium, Manchester City) Christian Eriksen (Denmark, Tottenham Hotspur) Frenkie de Jong (The Netherlands, Ajax Amsterdam/FC Barcelona) Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea/Real Madrid) N’Golo Kante (France, Chelsea) Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid)Arthur Melo (Brazil, FC Barcelona) Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid) Paul Pogba (France, Manchester United) Ivan Rakitic (Croatia, FC Barcelona) Bernardo Silva (Portugal, Manchester City) Dusan Tadic (Serbia, Ajax Amsterdam) Arturo Vidal (Chile, FC Barcelona)
Sergio Aguero (Argentina, Manchester City)Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid) Roberto Firmino (Brazil, Liverpool FC) Antoine Griezmann (France, Atletico Madrid/FC Barcelona) Harry Kane (England, Tottenham Hotspur) Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich) Sadio Mane (Senegal, Liverpool) Kylian Mbappe (France, Paris Saint-Germain) Lionel Messi (Argentina, FC Barcelona) Neymar (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Juventus) Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool) Heung-Min Son (South-Korea, Tottenham Hotspur) Raheem Sterling (England, Manchester City) Luis Suarez (Uruguay, FC Barcelona)