While Xherdan Shaqiri won’t be the player most remembered from the successful 2018-19 Champions League run, the Swiss international did his part to ensure his second and the club’s sixth European trophy.
In particular, Shaqiri started in the now famous semi-final second leg against Barcelona, where the Reds came back from 3-0 deficit to win the tie 4-3. Shaqiri’s pass to Wijnaldum in the second half lead to the Dutchman putting them on level terms with the Spanish side.
In an interview with the official site, Shaqiri reminisces about that fateful match, as well as his life growing up in Switzerland, where he moved from Kosovo when he was four years old.
“Of course, I have the quality for crosses and good crosses,” Shaqiri insists about that crucial play. “For giving assists, too. At that moment it was a perfect ball between two defenders and Gini was there perfectly [for Liverpool’s third goal]. It was a nice goal and an important goal obviously. For Trent’s corner, I thought we were swapping. I was on the way to go, I was looking at the ground and he just played it fast. I saw the ball inside the goal and we celebrated. It was amazing instinct.”
On the big day, Shaqiri claims that Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters’ had belief in themselves to play well — even if he couldn’t have guessed they would play quite that well.
“It was an unbelievable comeback. Nobody thought we were going to come back. To be honest, we always believe,” he said. “The situation when we came into the dressing room at half-time you thought, ‘OK, let’s finish well’ because it was just 1-0. To be honest, I never thought we were going to win the game 4-0 in the end, but if you score the second one you start believing. It was momentum; I think if we played 20 minutes more we were going to score two more goals. It was just amazing. The fans behind us helped us a lot. It was an unbelievable comeback that we’ll never forget.”
Of course, a comeback semi-final victory would be nothing if the team didn’t get to lift the trophy in the end. How did it feel to bring the European Cup back to Liverpool?
“It was a shame we didn’t win the league but it was amazing to get the Champions League title again for Liverpool. For me, the second time. You never forget these kinds of feelings, these kinds of trophies you win with the team. And to celebrate with the fans, after a long time they could celebrate something big in the city, was just amazing,” Shaqiri said.
We’ll have to hold that memory close to tide us over as long as football remains on pause while the world battles COVID-19. Hopefully soon, though, the Reds will be back on the pitch battling for more trophies to add to their case.