Jurgen Klopp has paid tribute to Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino, admitting he himself would have struggled to deal with the pressure of an FA investigation.
Firmino learned on Wednesday that he would not face charges after Everton defender Mason Holgate alleged the Brazilian racially abused him during an FA Cup tie at Anfield on January 5.
Liverpool manager Klopp was convinced throughout the 47-day process that Firmino would have no case to answer but was frustrated that he could not speak on his behalf until the FA concluded their investigation.
Klopp was delighted by the 26-year-old’s ability to concentrate, block out the worry and improve his form, scoring five goals in his last seven appearances.
‘There were a few times we asked (at Liverpool) was there anything we could say or that we know already?’ said Klopp. ‘And it was no. Nothing. The Everton game was quite a while ago. I was happy when I heard, finally.
‘I was never in doubt but if I am in a situation like that, which goes on for 47 days, and somebody thinks I said something, it would be difficult for me to deal with it. That’s why I am really proud of Roberto.
‘For one session in Marbella I took him out and said thank you, because he doesn’t rest, so I have to do it for him.’
The past seven weeks have also been a huge test for Holgate, who continues to be investigated by the FA for homophobic tweets sent when he was a teenager.
The England Under 21 centre back has not played since January 20 and Everton boss Sam Allardyce said: ‘A thorough investigation has been held and decision made so it’s a case of moving forward now.’