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Jurgen Klopp: “This is easily the most special trophy I have ever won”

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Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea was manager Jurgen Klopp‘s “most special trophy” after they overcame more injury adversity to win 1-0 at Wembley after extra time.

Already without 11 first-team players, they lost Ryan Gravenberch to an ankle problem after half-an-hour and finished the match with four academy players on the pitch but the youngsters held out long enough for captain Virgil van Dijk to head the 118th-minute winner.

“In more than 20 years it is easily the most special trophy I have ever won. It is absolutely exceptional,” said Klopp, who is leaving the club at the end of the season and looked emotional on the pitch at the final whistle.

“Sometimes people ask me if I’m proud of things and it’s really tricky, I wish I could feel pride more often but tonight is an overwhelming feeling.

“I was proud of everyone involved in everything here: I was proud of our people for the way they pushed us, I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere surrounding where these boys can just do what they are best at.

“I was proud of our academy, I was proud of my coaches, I was proud of so many things. It was completely overwhelming.

“It was nothing to do with it being maybe my last game at Wembley.

“Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because this happened before, this happened before: this tonight, if you find the same story with academy players coming on against a top side and still winning it, I’ve never heard of it.

“I loved it. What we see here today is so exceptional. We might never see again. Not because I’m on the sidelines but because these things don’t happen in football.

“I got told there’s an English phrase ‘you don’t win trophies with kids’. I didn’t know that.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool players celebrate with the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Victory extended Liverpool’s own record to 10 League Cups and was the seventh major trophy he has won since arriving at the club in 2015.

His side are top of the Premier League and are one of the favourites for both the FA Cup and Europa League but Klopp has no interest in the sentimentality of his final few months.

“I couldn’t care less about my legacy, I am not here to create one,” he added.

“Nothing we’ve done in the last eight or nine years is replaceable, we couldn’t have done the same at another club. It was exactly made for this combination. It is fantastic.

“We learned so much in that time, the people learned so much. That’s the one thing – it’s not a problem if a manager leaves, if these people would leave, our supporters, that would be a problem.

“As long as they are the way they are, Liverpool Football Club will be fine and that’s the most important thing.

“From time to time you need something to really celebrate. This was so special, you saw the game and saw the circumstances, they become bigger.

“We had a ref (Chris Kavanagh) who was not up to the level of the game, that didn’t help one team or the other. There was no common sense again.

“Then getting through all things. You see tired players. I have no clue who can play on Wednesday [against Southampton in the FA Cup] because we have players on the pitch until the end of the game who had problems.”

Klopp reserved special praise for his captain, who put in a real leader’s performance to lift his first trophy since taking over from Jordan Henderson.

“From the first day coming into the club [Van Dijk] was absolutely outstanding. Thank God he is in form, top shape. I think he learned an important lesson for himself: you always can win the game,” he said.

League Cup winners!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's goal-scorer and man-of-the-match captain Virgil van Dijk lifts the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)