Jordan Henderson believes a rousing speech by Jurgen Klopp two years ago has ultimately led Liverpool to the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday.
Immediately after one of the lowest points in his career, having watched the 2016 Europa League final 3-1 defeat to Sevilla as an unused substitute because he was not fully fit, the Liverpool captain says he was inspired by his manager’s words when they got back to the team hotel.
Klopp told his players there would be more finals to play, outlining his vision of where he wanted the club to go, and Henderson says he was hooked.
“We were obviously down but when we got back to the hotel the manager had something different to stay,” he said.
“He looked at the bigger picture and the future and he felt as though it could be a big moment in our careers to learn from the experience.
“He had this sort of vision that made me think in the future we’d get to another final.
“He wanted to use the experience of that final to keep us together and use it as a positive. If we got to another final we’d be ready.
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is confident he can handle the threat of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final on Saturday
“At that moment I sensed that he could see that he was confident about getting to another final.
“I can’t remember word-for-word but he had something about him that felt it was the start of something, something he felt he could take forward and definitely get the team to another final.
“I definitely remember that night. I think you can see how he has taken the team forward since then has been fantastic.”
Liverpool are the top scorers in the Champions League with 40 goals so far this season and Henderson believes that record is indicative of the mentality bred by Klopp at Anfield.
“He is our leader and everyone looks up to him,” he continued.
“I have spoken about the manager having a massive impact since he’s come in, which he has.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists his side's relative lack of experience in major finals will not be a disadvantage against Real Madrid
“He has created a special dressing room with special players and I’m sure that will continue in the summer with new players coming in and helping this squad out to win trophies.
“I definitely feel we are going in the right direction. [I can] definitely see how hungry the team are to be successful.
“I hope there are a lot more opportunities in the next few years for us as a team because I feel as though we are good enough, have a world-class manager and we are going in the right direction.
“Getting over that first hurdle as a team, winning the Champions League would be a massive step.
“The belief you get from that going forward can really put us in a good position over the next couple of years for the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup – more trophies we want to win.”
Succeeding iconic skipper Steven Gerrard – who is now manager of Rangers – has been difficult at times for Henderson but he believes he has enough experience to become the fifth Liverpool captain to lift the European Cup.
“The manager is a massive influence and I’ve always had good people around me to learn from; friends and family at a young age,” added Henderson, who was overlooked for the England captaincy in favour of Harry Kane.
“Kevin Ball was brilliant, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce [all at Sunderland] – all leaders and all had a massive influence on me.”