Do you remember that time Loris Karius made some questionable decisions during Liverpool’s Champions League final match with Real Madrid? I certainly do. Those are not fun memories. The German goalkeeper began the game composed and effective but unbeknownst to everyone, a dastardly elbow to the head from Sergio Ramos changed that significantly.
Days after when the fervor for Madrid’s win died down it was revealed that Karius had suffered a concussion. There was never a moment when Liverpool thought to use this information to explain away the loss to Madrid but people like Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois couldn’t help but stroke their own ignorance at the time by dismissing the concussion revelations as a bad excuse and calling the news “strange.”
Now, Jürgen Klopp is talking for the first time about the Karius situation, how one concussion is not like the other, and learning from the experience.
“Whoever had a concussion knows there is not one way how it feels,” said Klopp, “there are different ways. He didn’t feel it obviously. He had a knock on his head and he felt that but he didn’t know he had a concussion. That’s how concussions are. The guy who has it is the last one to be aware of it probably.
“With all the intensity of the game, adrenaline and the disappointment after the game, nobody really thought about that. I needed a few days, to be honest, to accept the fact and deal with the situation [of losing the final]. It was not that easy.
“After four days I got a call from Franz Beckenbauer, our Bobby Moore, our biggest football player who is a good friend of mine. He called me and said he came from a doctor. He told me: ‘your goalkeeper had a concussion.’ I said, ‘what?’ because in the game, from my position that situation is not very good to see: ‘maybe there was contact or not.’
“I got all the pictures from different perspectives, saw it and thought: ‘how can we all think that the boy who didn’t show any weakness in that game until then made these big mistakes in a very important game and nobody thinks it’s because of the knock he got?’ How can we think that?
“I thought it was too late, you cannot check that. But now I know a concussion isn’t coming and going in a day – if you have one, you see it days later. Five days after the final, Loris had 26 of 30 markers for a concussion still. That’s clear.
“If you ask Loris, he says he didn’t think about it and didn’t use it for a second as an excuse. We don’t use it as an excuse, we use it as an explanation.”
The whole head-injury-is-important thing is new for many stubborn sports people. Be a man. Get up. No excuses. Referees didn’t always stop the play when players went down holding their noggins. And there are still many people who think it’s unnecessary to do so except in extreme cases. But heads are important. It’s where the brain lives.
Nothing can or could be done to change the outcome for Liverpool against Real Madrid. Concussion doesn’t always show up with a big, obvious sign and now the moment is gone. But maybe this experience can highlight the continued importance for supporting medical personnel in-game to assess players as well as supporting referees to retroactively punish those who identify violence against opposition players as a winning strategy.
“He was influenced by that knock, that is 100 per cent,” Klopp said. “What the rest of the world is making of it, I don’t care. It’s really not important what the people say. We do not use it as an excuse.
“Now people could think for us it is the explanation – and for me it is 100 per cent the explanation and that’s all.”