We spoke to Liverpool goalkeeping coach John Achterberg in part one of our exclusive interview, where we discuss the emotions of last weekend's incredible European triumph, Jurgen Klopp, the Madrid after-party and THAT victory parade.
It's been an absolutely incredible week of football for Liverpool - they’ve just won the Champions League to cap off a remarkable season. In your own words, can you sum up the feeling on your part and amongst the group after that incredible night in Madrid?
"Obviously, you could see on the pitch that everyone was relieved to win the trophy – it’s what everyone had dreamed [of]. The boys worked really hard with the boss and the coaches to make that happen. It was our time, if you want to say it like that. We’ve been really close a few times, and for whatever reason [a few times] it didn’t happen but this time it did. It’s a great feeling and, obviously, we want it to lead on to more good things in the next few years.
How pleased was Jurgen Klopp to finally get his hands on a trophy at Liverpool? Obviously he’s been at Liverpool four years now and has been to a number of finals and never managed to get over the line...
"No, of course he is probably [he won’t say it] the happiest man in the world as well. As a manager, he also wants to win every game and wants to win trophies and at least now he can say that he is [a top manager] with the recognised top managers on the same level because he has won the greatest trophy in European football and that is a great feeling as well.
"I don’t think there is, at the moment, many top managers around who could do it consistently – it’s not easy to manage a top team and top players [where] they gel together perfectly. That’s a massive job, and the boss makes it happen in the way he talks to them and keeps them all together – he tries to create this bonding and obviously that pays off because, in the end, if the team is all together you will get more results than if it’s not together."
Liverpool fans have been engulfed in some incredible content on social media in the last few days from Madrid. In your words, how would you sum up the feeling in the dressing room after that result?
"You know everyone is happy. They all celebrate and are happy with each other and for each other. For everyone it is a big [ boost] that you win a trophy like that, and Jurgen has done that. Obviously after the game he is happy because everyone is wanting to talk to him and pull him left, right and centre. In the end you come together and talk about it – you are happy you achieved the dream, everyone including all the supporters, who are happy to win this."
Touching on the supporters, for you, how was that open-top bus parade on Sunday? It must have been absolutely incredible to witness that from centre stage – an 8-mile trip that was supposed to take 4 hours! How pleasing for you was it to see the city come together in celebration of that trophy?
"You know, we were close a few times, and we had a few times that it was so important to you and you see the people around the stadium – for instance the Man City game last year, or when we could win the league a few years back, then you see the people around the ground and aggression they’re singing with. Then I chat to a few people and if we’re going to [beat] a big team [one time] then it would go completely mad.
"You cannot believe that because the people are so passionate about this club to win. When that happened – you cannot believe what you see. I know the people on the telly say there were 750,000 [people on the streets] – there must have probably all been on the waterfront. If you see all the streets behind where you go, that was exactly the same. There was more than 1 million people on the streets for sure, and one was more mad than the other. You see people climbing in trees, standing on cars – the whole car roof has gone in – you see one maybe with no clothes on standing on a ladder on the top of the roof, you see them standing on the petrol station.
"Everyone was singing loud and the noise was amazing. It’s a lifetime experience, and it feels like you want to do it again and again. I think the boys will definitely feel like they want to win something and want to see it again."
How was the after-party on Saturday night? Did you get much sleep?
"I think I went to my room for one hour and that was it, but I didn’t sleep I think. I went to breakfast and then we went back to the UK. I had so much energy from that performance and we got so much energy from winning the game – you can stay awake for the next few days, which is probably what nearly happened really. People gave you so much energy so you didn't want to miss anything – you’re buzzing from what happened and what you see and how many people are supporting the club. I tell you now, what you’ve seen on Sunday, I don’t think you’d see anywhere else."
Can you sum up last weekend in one word? I’ve put you on the spot!
"Amazing life experience? – that’s a long, long word no?"