A Ticketless Red’s Love Affair with the European Cup by Daniel Uri

“Liverpool have got their hands on the European Cup again, and this time it’s for keeps. That trophy isn’t going anywhere but Anfield”
Clive Tyldesley majestically poured out some commentary genius as Steven Gerrard hoisted big ears over his head. The most prized possession in football had a permanent home at Anfield. Liverpool, down 3-0 to the mighty A.C Milan at half time, had pulled off mission impossible. 
I will never forget the walk into school the next day. I was on top of the world. In fact, throughout that run in I was. It just seemed like we were destined to beat everyone we were up against. We were awful in the league. Eventually finishing 5th, behind Everton that season. Every away game seemed like doomsday. Yet, we could go to Turin, without Steven Gerrard, and make Juventus look awkward because it was the Champions League. Rafa had the magic touch for Europe.
I’ve decided to blur out Athens. Why? Strange game. Bizarre goals. Poor team selection from Rafa. We were better than Milan on paper and night. And then, the fan chaos. The ticket drama. It’s all a mess. So.. yeah, just blur it out. It’s much better for the memory books. 
So, on that road to Kiev, new hope, belief, and dreams were back. The days I’ll remember all my life. Mo Salah, a revelation from absolutely nowhere was on fire! Absolutely no-one could’ve predicted it. Let’s not forget, Liverpool had to qualify for the tournament that season. While we did not leave Kiev with the trophy, something just felt different about defeat that night. It hurt, it hurt badly. But Liverpool we’re back. It had been a long time since that 2007 final. It had been a long time since it felt like Liverpool were a football team. Jurgen Klopp had built a special, special side. 
All of this was built up in the decision to go to Spain. I should have been in Kiev. I still regret not trying hard enough to make it there. There were visa complications, but so what, they were solvable. So, it was a no brainer. Madrid. What a place! I was on the Kop for the Barcelona game. No words will describe what I felt that night. Speechless. Absolutely speechless. But, still a quick thinker. Air tickets were booked that very night. Fort Lauderdale to Philly and straight onto Madrid. The vibe surrounding the city was special. It felt like Johannesburg did before 2010
World Cup Final. Fans from all over the world. Football dominating the mood. It was red, very, very red. Arguably because Spurs fans had to wait an extra day to book their trip with their fixture vs Ajax being a day after ours. But, the amount of Reds that had come ticketless was mental. I was ticketless. So what? There was not anywhere in the world I would have wanted to be. I refused to see Wanda as a result. It was too heartbreaking. 
Goya. You absolutely mental little train stop. I will never forget being stood in the middle of a mad fan park. 100 thousand plus Reds , the worlds largest wickets, and bails in the middle of the park( cricket reference for my American readers). Those are the days I’ll remember all my life.
So, It’s hot, and I mean scary hot. We’ve been stood there from 11:30 because of the chaos that would ensue. You had to get there early or you had no chance of getting a decent position for the fan fest. So at about 4 ish, my legs are shot, Jamie Webster comes on. Now, those reading are probably envisioning him going absolutely mad as he belts out Virgil’s song. However, there was a weird 45 minutes before this all started. We’d all waited for him to come on. But, he nearly didn’t. The city wanted to shut it all down. Jeesh. Imagine having to cut that party short. I wouldn’t have wanted to make the announcement. Anyway, I’ve never bounced with the reds like that in my life. Don’t think I will. 
Now, the important time. Where to watch the match? I’d heard about a nightclub taking reservations for a viewing of the game. We gambled on it. My name had myself and 17 others on the list. Imagine it went wrong? 
It didn’t. Mon Madrid. About 45 minutes from the Fan Park by train. This was the venue to host the final. No chairs. Nowhere in site to sit. It didn’t matter. Adrenaline was kicking in from all sorts of directions. It was packed with singing reds. That is one thing I’ve never wrapped my head around with American sports. It’s like a show. There is no unity. Football creates unity between the fans and players through song. I can’t understand why it does not exist. 
Anyway, back to football. I finished my complimentary beer as the game kicked off. Penalty. Madness inside Mon Madrid. 1-0. More madness. My phones gone. It fell out my pocket with me jumping about. Found it, covered in beer about 5 minutes later. Then… we’ll just about absolutely nothing happened. Origi pops up. Smashes a left foot screamer home. My phones out my pocket again. We’re jumping around a nightclub in Madrid. I’m hugging strangers that I’ll never see again. And suddenly, with 5 minutes to go, we’re belting out You’ll Never Walk Alone. We didn’t watch the final moments. Everyone was too high on life… literally. 
This club, this club is special. It’s not about football. It’s about the memories we create. We went for a small bite to eat and a sit down after that game ended. The energy adrenaline had provided had worn off. The day was mad. My voice was gone. Liverpool were champions of Europe for a 6th time. I could remember being sent to sleep at half time of Istanbul with school the next day. Then woken up at 3-2 and running around the living room like a lunatic shouting “I told you so” after successfully predicting Shevchenco would miss.  I remembered the agony Kiev had brought the year before. The relief that we had done it was overwhelming me. 
Football. What a special feeling. Nothing else in the world could send hundreds of thousands of people to a city to watch an event, content they didn’t have a ticket. In times like this, I’ve been able to appreciate the joy it provided me so much more.  
I will leave you all with these lyrics from the Beatles. It sums it all up for me. It is usually associated with a video about a famous European moment or night in Liverpool history. Of course, the most famous men from Liverpool would be perfect to tell the Liverpool story in Europe. 
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I’ll love you more
In my life I’ll love you more