James Milner has described winning the Premier League as “the reason he signed” for Liverpool, and ahead of a trophy lift without fans he is “gutted” they can’t share it.
Prior to this season, Milner was the only player among Jurgen Klopp‘s squad with experience of winning the English top flight, having done so twice with Man City.
The veteran midfielder was brought in largely due to his experience, filling the void left by Steven Gerrard on his exit in 2015, and he has proved an inspired signing.
Reflecting on the achievement in an interview with Chris McLoughlin for the official matchday programme, Milner paid tribute to his predecessor and savoured the ability to “create some of our own history.”
“It will be special, very special,” he said of the moment the Reds are handed the trophy.
“It was the reason I signed here in the first place and I’m sure it’s the case for the other lads as well—a club of this size and with its history.
“The fact the wait had been so long meant it was a massive challenge to try and end it and create some of our own history.
“You can see what it means to everyone. The night it was confirmed we were champions, you could see the emotional impact. Not just on us and the manager but the supporters and the past players—the legends. Sir Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard, so many of them.
“When they were messaging and telling us congratulations, you know they really meant it and they were properly made-up. That was great.
“What this team has achieved means a lot to a lot of people and it’s special to be part of something like that.”
But unlike when City won it in 2012 and 2014, there will be no fans in attendance as Milner and his team-mates lift the trophy, with supporters absent for Wednesday night’s clash with Chelsea.
A stage has been built on the Kop to help ensure it will remain a special moment for the club regardless, but without fans the trophy lift will undoubtedly be lacking.
Milner said he is “gutted for the supporters,” acknowledging their 30-year wait for a title, but said the situation “won’t detract from the achievement.”
I’m gutted for the supporters, in truth. More than us as players,” he continued.
“That said, it is what it is and during this period so many people have made far greater sacrifices than footballers and football fans.
“People across society have had far bigger hardships, so perspective is important.
“Look, we’ll make the best of it. It’s not that the fans aren’t going to be watching. I’m sure every Liverpool fan, no matter where they are in the world, will make sure they’re watching.
“So they’ll be with us even if they’re not there. We’re still lifting it for them and ourselves.
“I’ve no idea how it will feel until it happens, but it won’t detract from the achievement and what this team and staff have worked so hard for.”