Ramos body slam motivated Mo Salah to finish Champions League job with Liverpool
Mo Salah only did it once, but it was enough.
In the hours before kick-off, Liverpool’s talisman found the photograph of him leaving the 2018 Champions League final in floods of tears and took a long, hard look.
The incident that caused such anguish – Sergio Ramos’s body slam that left the Egyptian with a badly damaged shoulder – has been much discussed over the past 12 months, but it is not something Salah has broached. Until now.
There was no mention of Ramos, but he opened up on the nightmare in Kiev.
Given the way that encounter with Real Madrid ended – a 3-1 defeat – Salah wanted a reminder of the pain he felt and was determined to use it as motivation.
Remarkably, 21 seconds into the showdown with Tottenham in Madrid, Salah had the chance to redress the balance.
“I looked at the picture from last year before the game,” said Salah, who held his nerve to smash a penalty beyond Hugo Lloris.
“We were a little bit disappointed after that final, but now we are back, and we have won it again. It is something great.
“I prepared myself before the game. I scored a penalty to send Egypt to the World Cup after 28 years in the last minute, so this one was easier.
“I didn’t look at the picture for a long time. I just looked at it one time and said, ‘Okay – let’s go’.
“Disappointment went through my mind (when he looked at the picture). I was very disappointed that I got injured and went out after 30 minutes, and we lost the game.
“So, it was something to motivate me to win this one.”
Some would have felt it was fate that Salah got this opportunity.
He certainly did, so much so that he had it in his mind that he was going to score at some stage at the Wanda Metropolitano, and his strength and aggression always left Tottenham on high alert.
Asked whether he believed in fate, Salah replied: “I do. Absolutely. Our job is more mental and you have to believe in yourself before the game.
“You could see the players – we were believing in ourselves in the game.
“I think everything happens for a reason, and the reason for us to lose the final last season was to come back and win it again.
“It’s great. The final of the Champions League, take a penalty, show the courage and to win the trophy.”
🇪🇬 👑 is 🔴 pic.twitter.com/5Ih6gnfiQN— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 3, 2019
The performance which secured Liverpool’s sixth European Cup may have lacked flamboyance, but given the way they have performed over the past 12 months, it could hardly be said it was not deserved.
When it mattered most, they were clinical and ruthless.
Liverpool look like a team who are ready to win more trophies. They will return to Istanbul in August to contest the European Super Cup against Chelsea.
But the next Champions League final is also in Istanbul, and Jose Mourinho suggested on beIN Sports that they could go all the way again.
Salah added: “With Liverpool, the Champions League is something special. The first trophy for us and it’s the Champions League! It’s the start.
“We will go next season for the Premier League. This season was the first season we were really fighting for the Premier League.
“Last season we were basically fighting to qualify for the Champions League. The year before the Europa League. We lost the Premier League by one point against Man City, which was well deserved.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Tottenham, they were great – a good team who deserved to be in the final. They had an unbelievable competition.
“What I can say to them is, ‘Sorry, and good luck in the future’. But the average age of (Liverpool’s team) is 26-27, so we still have young players.
“It is good experience for us to win the trophy now and also last season we learned a lot. As you can see, we were more calm.
“We scored a second goal after 86 or 87 minutes, and we were patient in the game. We did everything we could and we deserved it.”
Yesterday was surreal. Thanks to everyone for making the city feel like. Anfield! pic.twitter.com/uQjEum74YJ— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) June 3, 2019