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Jurgen Klopp has revealed that he paused celebrations after Liverpool reached the Champions League final against Villarreal to text his wife Ulla, Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips. The German was keen to thank the two Liverpool youngsters for their integral contributions towards the latter stages of last season’s injury-plagued campaign, which simply made it all possible.
Had it not been for them, Liverpool were unlikely to ever have reached the top-four and qualified for this season’s competition.
And after the Reds came from 2-0 down at half-time to beat Villarreal 3-2, Klopp reached for his phone.
His wife Ulla, who was decisive in his decision to recently extend his contract with Liverpool, had already text him – so Klopp obviously replied but Williams and Phillips were next on his list.
“I messaged Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips because we wouldn’t be there without them,” Klopp told Sky Sports News.
“I remember the final game of last season and they left the pitch with a bandage around the head, cuts on their faces, and that was really a symbol for the whole period.
“We went through on one leg, with one eye… it was incredible. It was such a tough season.”
Serious knee injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez threatened to derail Liverpool’s season.
Joel Matip was also ruled out for the rest of the campaign in January 2021 following an ankle injury sustained in the 3-1 win at Tottenham.
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Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both had brief stints at centre-back but in the end, it was Liverpool’s academy stars who helped them over the line.
Klopp added: “Hopefully nobody forgot how hard we fought to get here,” Klopp says of a time that seems so distant, so divorced from this reality.
“We felt it mentally. The public wasn’t shy of telling us that we underperformed and all these kind of things. You try to understand, you think ‘wait a minute, we’re facing teams in the strongest league in the world having played for the majority of the time without our full defence. We had no centre-halves, had to play midfielders in the last line, then had to use other players in midfield and nothing worked really.
“In the end, we played with two incredible players – Rhys and Nat – but we couldn’t use them earlier because they needed time to adapt. So, yes there was a bit of a point to prove and I’m really happy that the boys did that.”
Phillips has had an excellent loan spell with Bournemouth in the second half of the season, helping them to promotion back to the Premier League.
He could now join the Cherries on a permanent deal while Williams has been playing his football for the Under-23s at Kirkby.
The 21-year-old spent the first half of last season on loan at Swansea City in the Championship before being recalled by Liverpool.
Klopp is expected to send him back out on loan next season to gain some regular, senior playing time.
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