LONDON • An inspiring speech by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in the aftermath of the Europa League final loss to Sevilla two years ago was the catalyst for this season's run to the Champions League title clash, captain Jordan Henderson has said.
Liverpool are within touching distance of a sixth European crown and are looking to deny holders Real Madrid a 13th title when the teams face off at Kiev's Olympic Stadium tomorrow.
But the mood in the Liverpool team hotel was understandably bleak following the 3-1 defeat by Sevilla in 2016.
There was little conversation flowing that night in Basel until Klopp, at the end of his first season as manager, addressed the squad.
"It felt s**t three hours ago and it still feels s**t now," the German began. "But we will be back."
It was the defiance behind those prophetic words that made the greatest impression on Henderson.
Klopp also launched into a hoarse version of We Are Liverpool once his rallying call was over.
It was a stoic effort considering he had just suffered a fifth consecutive Cup final defeat but, to Liverpool's captain, there was a confidence born in Klopp.
Klopp predicted that night there would be more finals, outlining his vision of where he wanted the club to go, and Henderson was hooked.
"We were obviously down but when we got back to the hotel the manager had something different to stay," Henderson 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 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.
"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."
Liverpool are firing on all cylinders in Europe's elite club competition during this campaign.
The Merseyside club have already plundered 40 goals in their march to the final and Henderson credited Klopp with re-energising the team.
"I think you can see how he has taken the team forward since then has been fantastic... I see how hungry the team are to be successful," Henderson added.
"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.
"Real Madrid are a team of winners. Individually they have world-class players all over the pitch. They find a way to win and that's what the best teams do.
"On the day we have to be brave and play like we know we can. If we do that, we can hurt them."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN