Liverpool’s run to the 2022 Champions League final was made possible thanks to the incredible efforts of the entire squad after a draining and injury-hit 2020/21 season.
But it was Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams who were asked to step up and deliver, which they duly did to provide Liverpool with needed consistency and options in defence – combining for 39 appearances.
And that was not lost on the manager, who revealed the pair, alongside his wife, Ulla, were the first he texted after Liverpool overcame Villarreal and secured their place in Paris.
“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.
“Hopefully nobody forgot how hard we fought to get here.
“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.
“Now we should really squeeze everything out of these competitions, which so far we are.”
Klopp’s actions and words speak volumes about him as a manager and human being, with that one small gesture no doubt to have made a significant impression on both Phillips and Williams.
There’s no saying where the Reds would have been without their respective contributions, but with them, Liverpool are headed to Paris and hunting for No. 7.