You’d be hard pressed to find a better free transfer in Liverpool’s history than James Milner. The ultimate professional, Milner showed up to preseason each of his eight season’s with Liverpool in peak shape, lasting longer in the infamous lactate beep test year after year. He also endeared himself to the supporters with his selfless nature, stepping into whatever role was needed along with serving as a steady veteran presence.
Milner stepped on the pitch one last time for Liverpool against Southampton, putting in a shift as always. After the match, the ageless wonder spoke of the emotions of playing his final match for the club.
Weird. Last time you played for Liverpool, so it’s obviously a big deal. Last time in front of the fans and the reception we got was incredible. It has been incredible from day one since I’ve been at the club. Obviously it was emotional saying bye to the guys and the staff, the amount of work they put in with us and the times we’ve shared together, it’s been special to be part of it. Obviously putting on the Liverpool shirt for the last time is going to be a big deal. It has been an honour to wear the shirt and hopefully I’ve contributed as much as I can since I’ve been here. I’ll have great memories of this place.
Milner also made sure to speak of the incredible support he and the other players have had over the season. Long known as some of the best supporters in the game, the midfielder felt the generous support both home and away made his experience at the club even better than he could have imagined.
They have been incredible all over the world since I got here. You realize how big the club is when you travel and you go around the world. You’re on the other side of the world and the amount of fans there are – everywhere you go there are Liverpool fans. The support we get and some of the performances and results we’ve got at Anfield I don’t think could have been achieved at any other stadium in the world. It’s a special club to play for. The ovation we got today was incredible. It’s been a fantastic eight years and what we’ve managed to share. They have travelled all over; the amount of money they’ve spent following us and getting to European finals, all over Europe and the Club World Cup. I can’t even imagine the effort and the money they have gone to, to support us all the way through. That’s amazing. Hopefully the trophies we’ve won, the times we’ve shared, the trophy parades and those moments together, hopefully it was all worth it.
Of course, it helps to have something to cheer about. Milner won every conceivable piece of hardware over the course of his Liverpool career, including Liverpool’s first Premier League title in 30 years as well as the club’s 19th Champions League trophy. When asked if he could have ever imagined the success the club managed during his time in Liverpool, Milner said the success was always the plan, though maybe not quite to the degree that the club has achieved.
I’ve been asked that before and I don’t know, this was the aim obviously. The aim was to win a league title, the aim was to add another European Cup to the trophy cabinet. It was the plan – plans don’t normally come off like this. It is mission accomplished if you like in the time. This team is a special team with a special manager, amazing group of staff, unbelievable stadium, great training ground and some fantastic young players as well. It’s the end of my story here but the end of this era for Liverpool I’m sure isn’t ended and there’s going to be lots of trophies to come for this special group of players.
Best of luck you Jimmy at his next stop, wherever that may be. There have been lots of great professionals to come through the club, but there’s only one James Milner!