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Another orthopaedic surgeon in our ranks, we are blessed.

That's when I fell for Schalke’s Ozan Kabak

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28 minutes ago, Swipe said:

Deeney praising VVD as 'one of the top 5 in the world for me' made me chuckle.

I like Deeney and I reckon he's sound, but he doesn't half fancy himself when he's had a good game.

considering he should have been sent off in the first half you think he'd keep his head down

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17 minutes ago, Cobs said:

considering he should have been sent off in the first half you think he'd keep his head down

Forgot about that. Absolute joke that was. 

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4 hours ago, Jay M said:

It's a quite a long read...

  View spoiler

Meet Joe Gomez: the Liverpool star who played Monopoly after beating Barcelona

By Stuart James 3h ago 14 

Aji Oluwo is reeling off the medals that Joe Gomez, his best friend, will have won by the age of 22, bearing in mind that it is a matter of when, not if, Liverpool will be celebrating their first league title since 1990.

“He’ll have won the Premier League, the Champions League, the Super Cup, the World Club Championship — he’s achieved so much,” Oluwo says, proudly glancing across at Gomez, who is sitting opposite him on a sofa in his living room in Formby.

Oluwo pauses for a moment and then thinks about what really matters to Gomez, and to him too. “But as long as Joe’s happy, that’s the main thing,” he adds.

Gomez smiles. “I just enjoy sharing experiences with Aji and my friends,” the Liverpool and England defender says. “For example, it’s nice coming home after Barcelona (in the Champions League semi-final last season), a big experience like that, and thinking, ‘We lived that together’.”

Did they all come back here, to Gomez’s house? “Yeah,” Oluwo says. “We played Monopoly that night!”

Monopoly? “Yeah, we did. We were up until late,” Gomez says, chuckling.

The pair of them break into laughter as they see the look of bemusement on my face. Liverpool had just produced one of the greatest European comebacks of all time, recovering from being 3-0 down to beat Barcelona 4-3, and Gomez and his friends went home to play a board game.

“We watched the highlights first on YouTube,” Gomez says, making it sound as if everything should now stack up.

“I’ve got a picture here,” Oluwo adds, scrolling through his phone.

“This is it, after the Barcelona game,” he says, turning his phone around as Gomez comes over to see the photo of them stretched out on the sitting room floor, with the Monopoly board on a rug and a handful of property cards strewn in front of them.

“Look what time it was,” Gomez says, laughing. “It was 4.23am!”

Gomez, second from left, celebrated the win over Barcelona with a game of Monopoly with his friends

Oluwo shakes his head and grins. “Monopoly gets serious, man.”

We meet on a Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Liverpool came back from 2-1 down to beat West Ham 3-2, and James Milner’s tweet feels like as good a place as any to start.

James Milner✔@JamesMilner

Big win
Never in doubt it would end up in the net as Joey G lined it up from 30yards on his left peg #findaway#trenton#ynwa https://twitter.com/LFC/status/1232092846699663360 …

Liverpool FC✔@LFC

That ball
That finish

Sadio and Trent complete the comeback

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7:54 AM - Feb 25, 2020

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With nine minutes remaining and Liverpool facing the prospect of dropping points at home for the first time this season, Gomez strides forward and swings his left boot at a shot that takes a huge deflection. The ball loops up in the air and fortuitously ends up at the feet of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who promptly sets up Sadio Mane for the winner.

Gomez is trying to remember what was going through his mind and whether his eyes lit up at the prospect of scoring his first Liverpool goal. “Me and Aji spoke about it this morning. I was like, ‘I wouldn’t do that normally’. I don’t know why I did (shoot). It was just in that state of the game, probably just desperation,” he says.

“And confidence as well,” Oluwo chips in.

“I don’t know where it was going,” Gomez adds. “But I’m happy it deflected as early as it did. It was just a case of… I knew if I forced the pass and it got cut out, it would be way worse. Sometimes the gaffer, even Ali (Alisson Becker), from behind, is shouting: ‘Finish the attack!’ A lot of the time we play so front-footed, so Trent and Robbo (Andy Robertson) are gone, so if we do get a counter we’re in trouble. So I knew I was one of the last men. If I didn’t try and finish the attack… luck played a part, obviously. That’s probably my first shot this season!”

Gomez, who has been hugely impressive for Liverpool ever since returning to the centre of their defence in December and was badly missed in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Watford, laughs as he makes that last comment.

For a little moment the three of us try and imagine what would have happened if the ball had sailed into the top corner. A first senior goal, and a late winner too, and right in front of those Liverpool supporters. “I dream about that sometimes,” Gomez says, his expression deadly serious now. “It comes out from a corner and I score in front of the Kop. Maybe one day.”

“It’ll happen,” Oluwo adds.

Oluwo and Gomez have been close since they met at Forest Hill secondary school in Catford, south east London, more than a decade ago. They would wake up especially early every morning to get the No 75 bus together at 7.15. They weren’t going straight to the classroom at that time; they were going to the gym — at the age of 11. “That was our culture,” Gomez says.

“Upper body — bicep curls, chest press,” Oluwo adds, smiling at the memory.

In other words, this is how it all started and what led to Jurgen Klopp saying to Gomez a few years ago that he needed to lose “the beach-body” look. Gomez smiles. “That’s where it stemmed from,” he says, looking over at Oluwo. “But I don’t know what gave us the motivation to do it, because you weren’t boxing then.”

Oluwo, also aged 22, is a promising amateur boxer. He took up the sport three years ago after Gomez and three other former school mates, Kieran, Ben and Sean — the five of them are almost inseparable — came to the conclusion that their friend needed a bit more than verbal encouragement to get into a boxing ring.

“We were on to him for years,” Gomez says. “He just had the physique. We knew he was strong. And Aji has this determination — we knew if he set his mind to it, he’d be properly focused. So our friendship group kept saying: ‘Go to a club, just go to a club.’”

Oluwo smiles. “For my birthday, I got this big box with boxing trainers, gloves and (hand) wraps from the boys.”

Oluwo was encouraged to get into boxing by Gomez and their circle of friends

“So he had no choice!” Gomez says, laughing.

“They forced my hand, man,” Oluwo adds. “So I thought I might as well give it a go. It’s like they saw it before I saw it myself.”

While Gomez and Oluwo are both proud of their roots, Catford was not an easy place to grow up at times. As with other parts of London, it is an area that’s had its problems with gangs and knife crime. “If you wanted to mix around the wrong crowd, it could be easily done,” Gomez says.

Oluwo paints a more sobering picture. “There’s a lot of people who went to school in the same year as us who are dead or in jail.”

Gomez and Oluwo talk about a place in Catford that they nicknamed the “frontline” and where half a dozen buses from different schools all converged and, invariably, problems arose. “Certain times of day you’d just want to go through,” Gomez says.

“Keep stepping,” Oluwo adds, smiling.

That Gomez, Oluwo and their other close friends stayed on the right path is testament to the influence of their parents but also the mindset of five young boys who always wanted to do something positive with their lives.

Although football helped — Gomez was in Charlton’s academy from a young age and all of them would spend their summer holidays kicking a ball around on a six-a-side court every day — sport alone is not responsible for the people that they have become.

“We think we just had a good sense of what is wrong and what is right, and I don’t think we were the type to praise wrongdoing,” Gomez says. “We would call each other out. And the ones who did stray towards that path, we ended up separating ourselves from.

“Within our group, all of us are strong-minded enough to say: ‘I don’t want to play a part in that.’ It was easy to just linger outside the school gates, at the park. But you know just by judging the crowd what the vibe is going to be, or what it’s going to attract. We were more the type to go to my house and play FIFA, whereas some would go on the high street and just roam.”

Although Gomez claims there were footballers with “more flair” than him in the same year at his school — he mentions Kasey Palmer, who is now at Bristol City, and Regan Charles-Cook, who is playing for Gillingham — there is no doubt that his own progress at Charlton was rapid.

“Joe used to play up age groups,” Oluwo says. “The first time I saw him play I went to an FA Youth Cup game against Chelsea. He was strong, fast, big.”

“That was more my assets then — using the school gym!” Gomez says, smiling.

Gomez is being modest. He could play, too, and at the age of 17 had made 24 appearances for Charlton’s first team, prompting Liverpool to sign him in 2015 for £3.5 million. “I was still in my little bubble at Charlton,” Gomez says. “I’d play a first-team game and then go across the road to Kaspa’s, in Catford, to get a waffle. I didn’t ever think I had an opportunity to get to elite level until I signed for Liverpool.”

Footballers needs friends — and not just the ones in the dressing room. Gomez is particularly close to Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool, but there is only so much that any player is going to discuss with someone whose shirt is hanging up next to them.

“It’s hard to replicate certain relationships depending on where people come into your life,” Gomez says. “If you have a football friend, whether you like it or not, there is still a bit of a guard there, a bit of a wall because you don’t want to let it all out.

“Just in football in general naturally, and this is nobody’s fault, there is a lot of ego and entitlement. Whereas these guys, we’re just friends. We know each other. Strip everything aside, I’m not the footballer, Aji’s not the boxer. So if I’m feeling down or something is bothering me, we just talk about it.

“As men nowadays it’s hard to find that, where you’re just generally open with people. But that’s why it’s so important that you keep the friendships intact. So you can talk about everything.”

Gomez, second from right, with his friends, from left Sean, Aji, Kieran and Ben

There is a wider context to what Gomez is speaking about here, in terms of his career, his life and his mentality. By his own admission, Gomez is “quite deep”. He is a thinking footballer, on and off the pitch, where he talks about playing games consciously and sub-consciously depending on his confidence levels.

I turn to Oluwo and ask him why he laughed as soon as Gomez talked about being “quite deep” mentally.

“Joe is a deep guy, man,” Oluwo replies, smiling. “Joe is very structured. I don’t want to exaggerate, but he always knows his next seven steps. He’s got everything mapped out. I don’t think anything happens that he hasn’t thought about. He knows what he’s doing.”

Life, however, throws up challenges that disrupt even the best-laid plans. Gomez ruptured his cruciate ligament seven games into his Liverpool career and just a few days after Klopp took over as manager. An ankle operation ruled him out of the Champions League final in 2018 and the World Cup that summer. Last season, he broke his leg in December.

This season there was a setback of a different kind. Gomez found himself out of the team when he was fit, leaving him behind Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren in the pecking order when it came to partnering Van Dijk in central defence.

He dipped in and out of the side, starting a few games in the Champions League and the League Cup in between coming off the bench now and again in the Premier League. It was stop-start.

When Gomez is playing well — stepping out with the ball as well as defending resolutely — he feels as though everything happens almost without thinking. “That’s half the game, those that are just able to play freely, no pressure and just express themselves,” he says. “When I’m able to get into that subconscious state of just enjoying playing, that’s when I feel like I can perform best.”

Yet that state of mind and that way of playing — in particular being brave with the ball — is not something that can be turned on and off like a tap. “Rhythm is a big thing, being in your flow,” Gomez says. “That’s probably why the start of this season was a difficult period because I wasn’t playing, and when I did play, you feel it’s more of an audition for one game, because you don’t feel like you’re going to get that consistency, so then you start overthinking.”

Gomez looks at Oluwo. “I had conversations with these guys about it. I talk to them about everything, just to try and help me and to keep me on the right path. There’s times we talk and people might see it as embarrassing. I’d be like, ‘Bro, I’m anxious about this. I’m scared.’ Whereas I probably wouldn’t say that (to a team-mate).”

“And there’s no judging as well,” Oluwo adds.

An obvious story comes to mind as Gomez and Oluwo talk candidly about the support they provide for one another (it is certainly not a one-way street) in their respective sports.

Last November, Gomez reported for England duty at St George’s Park, the day after Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield. Towards the end of that Premier League game, Gomez and Raheem Sterling squared up to one another as tempers boiled over. By the time they left the pitch, everything appeared to have been smoothed over.

Sterling clearly felt differently, though, and when Gomez went to shake his hand in the canteen at St George’s Park 24 hours later, the Manchester City player tried to put his team-mate in a headlock. The scar under Gomez’s right eye is a reminder of an incident that he would rather forget.

He accepted Sterling’s apology and, Gomez being Gomez, backed Gareth Southgate’s decision to keep the Manchester City winger in the England squad. As far as Gomez is concerned, he drew a line under the episode back then and there is no desire on his part to talk about the altercation.

What Gomez couldn’t control, though, was the media storm that followed, and it says much about the understated way in which he likes to live his life that he found being in the headlines far harder to deal with than anything that happened in the canteen.

A quietly spoken and unassuming man, Gomez has no interest in courting the spotlight. He has never touched alcohol and would much rather be putting hotels on Mayfair on the Monopoly board as opposed to stumbling out of a nightclub there on a Saturday night.

In November, however, Gomez was on the front and back pages of national newspapers and on television news bulletins too, taking him right out of his comfort zone and all through no fault of his own.

“It was a difficult period,” he says. “Aji and my other friends, Ben, Kieran and Sean, sometimes they’re on to me a bit. In fact, we were talking about this yesterday in the car — they say I should be more proactive.”

Proactive in what way? “Some people build more… if you said someone’s name, you’d be like: ‘I know him’, like as a figure, as a personality.”

“Outside of football,” Oluwo adds.

Like a brand or status?

“Yeah, on social media, you sort of know who they are,” Gomez says.

Gomez takes a moment to think about what he is going to say next. “I enjoy football, it’s my passion, but there are a lot of things that come with it, like the limelight,” he explains. “But I just like being with my missus, my kid and my friends. So I consciously choose not to be out there like that. So my main problem with that whole thing was just being thrown into something that I wasn’t used to.”

Like the fact that Joe Gomez’s name was suddenly on everybody’s lips? “That’s the thing that I didn’t enjoy. And it was annoying that that camp ended with me not being able to play, to get over it and move on. The first thing I did was call these guys, to say I’d got a knock in training and that I had to come home.”

By then, however, Gomez had been subjected to another ordeal and one that felt grossly unfair and senseless. With England leading 6-0 against Montenegro at Wembley, Southgate brought on Gomez to replace Mason Mount. Ridiculously, some England supporters booed Gomez.

“I wasn’t there because I had boxing training but the rest of our friends went,” Oluwo says. “After the game I went on Twitter. Sometimes I search his name just to see how he got on. His name was trending. It said on there that he was getting booed. I was thinking, ‘What? Nah, nah. No way.’ Then I asked him, I said, ‘Bro, is this true?’ I said, ‘Did you hear it?’

“I remember you said you heard it a bit. Then I watched the video, I saw the clip of him coming on and I heard the booing. And I could see it in his face as well. A lot of people say, ‘He’s a strong guy…’ But that was kind of crazy.”

“If anything it has made me a bit more stand-offish,” Gomez explains. “But in terms of the actual situation (with Sterling), what happened happened. We spoke. It was done. As a team it was done. So in my head it was done. It was just then that the game happened with the reception.”

Inevitably, there will be a spotlight on Gomez when he joins up with the England squad next month for the friendlies against Italy and Denmark.

“It’s going to come back up again,” Oluwo adds.

Has Gomez thought about any of that? “I haven’t really processed it. With what happened brings experience. I went out to train and I knew that the first session after it came out publicly, eyes were going to be on me. I was never used to that before. So, good or bad, it was an experience.”

In truth, it would be a major surprise if Gomez got anything other than a hugely positive reception from the England fans this time around. “Yeah, I think so too,” Oluwo adds. “But it’s because I know him that I don’t really understand the severity before.”

Asked to elaborate, Oluwo says: “Joe is just a clean guy. If people knew him… the booing, no one would ever do that. They wouldn’t even think about it. He’s a proper guy.”

Marbella, May 2019. Liverpool are away for a training camp before their Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid a week or so later. It is a match that will make or break Liverpool’s season.

Gomez is desperate to be involved, all the more so after missing the Champions League final against Real Madrid the previous year. But he has a dilemma. Tamara, his partner, is heavily pregnant and she has just been in touch to say that the contractions have started. Gomez feels “a bit anxious” and decides to go and see Klopp to tell him the latest.

“I said, ‘Boss, I think it’s getting close.’ He said, ‘Joe, fly home. If you can come back, then come back.’

“Other managers might look down on you a bit for something like that, whereas he makes things easy,“ Gomez says.

“The labour was pretty long, so in the end once the team came back I just joined training at Melwood. But I sent the manager a picture when Kyrie was born and he was happy.”

That little story goes some way to explaining why Gomez talks about Klopp in a way that transcends the German’s influence on him as a footballer. “I feel like I owe him a great deal, not just as a manager but as a person,” Gomez says. “We’re blessed to have someone that’s a good human being, aside from being a good man-manager and the passionate, knowledgeable person that everyone else sees.”

Liverpool went on to beat Tottenham 2-0 in the Champions League final and Gomez, who had returned to fitness in April, came on in the 89th minute. Had he not broken his leg at Burnley, the chances are he would have kept his place in the team and started in that final. Looking at the photos of the celebrations, Gomez is as happy as anybody. But deep down, it would be understandable if he was wrestling with his emotions that night.

“It was a big battle in my head,” Gomez says. “These guys (Oluwo and the other three school friends) had to make me feel like I played my part. I think that’s the biggest thing in football, seeking fulfilment, feeling like I’m achieving. It was nice to come on and I’m grateful to have played a part in a game like that, of course. But I think any footballer, when you play from the start and have that full involvement, it’s a different feeling to coming on late as a sub. So I was buzzing, but part of that whole season I felt I could have done more.”

“Seeking fulfilment” is an interesting choice of words. “I just think that’s one of the key components of happiness,” Gomez explains. “Unless you feel fulfilled, or satisfied with what you are doing or achieving, then what’s money and fame or recognition?

“It feels like I’ve had so many close shaves, chances to be part of something great. The country got to the World Cup semi-final and I was watching. We got to the Champions League final, we almost won the Premier League. And that’s when I realised that what I’m chasing in my career is fulfilment.”

Oluwo leans forward to make a point. “I remember on the night before the Champions League final I messaged on the group chat and said, ‘Regardless of whether you come on or not, you’re in a better position than what you were compared to the year before. Everything is about making a step up.’”

Gomez nods. “Aji saying something like that puts things in perspective. One minute you’re feeling sorry for yourself. The next you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m blessed to be here.’ Sometimes all you need is that one word from your friends and that puts you in a completely different mindset.

“I’ve definitely drawn perspective from what’s happened. It’s a blessing to play and to have the opportunity to be a part of things. It hurts not being involved, or just watching. I felt that pain deeply. I’m lucky to be involved in a team that last year came so close to the Premier League and got to the Champions League final when I was just watching. But part of me thought: ‘Is this a one-off? Will we get this chance again?’”

Gomez received what he describes as “another dose of perspective” when he returned home after the Champions League final and looked at his little boy, who was no more than a week old. A sense of responsibility swept over him. A feeling of being blessed too.

“Coming home, your flesh and blood, his life is in my hands, we as parents have to mould this baby,” Gomez says. “For one, you think, ‘Wow, my parents did a lot.’ But it’s also like, is that game, in the grand scheme of life, as important as your child being born healthy?’”

When Oluwo took part in his first competitive bout, only six months after walking into a boxing club, Gomez drove from Liverpool to Leicester to watch his friend win. Oluwo, who is a gentle giant of a man, was fighting at super heavyweight back then. Now he is in the heavyweight division and a couple of months ago triumphed in the Class A National finals in Walthamstow.

Oluwo is making excellent progress and Gomez is ringside whenever he can be. “I’m on the edge of my seat because I want him to perform well. But I know he can handle himself,” Gomez says. “Before he dropped down and there was no limit, guys were 120kg, 110kg, and me and Kieran are looking at each other — obviously we don’t want to show this to Aji — but we’re thinking, ‘Whoa. If this guy catches him…’ Sometimes it’s draining watching because you’re fighting the fight with him.”

Oluwo laughs. “Sometimes I’m at Joe’s game and I’m not even watching the game. I’m just looking at him throughout the whole 90 minutes. If he does something well, I’m like this (he gets up from his seat and gestures to clap).”

Although Oluwo talks up his friend’s boxing potential, Gomez doesn’t fancy his chances in the ring. “The one time I did a bit was in the off-season. Aji brought the pads. I had sore wrists for a couple of days.”

Oluwo and Gomez back each other in their careers and have known each other since school in south east London

The two sound like they are joined at the hip during the summer. Gomez was working out with Oluwo at his local gym in Lewisham last June and training on the nearby running track at Ladywell Arena.

“I genuinely look forward to the off-season — we call it boot camp,” Gomez says. “I don’t think I’d ever hire a personal trainer because we push each other. Since Aji has started boxing, the endurance runs, for example, he’s setting the pace and I’m struggling.”

“The sprinting stuff, he’s leaving me,” Oluwo says.

“There’s a heavy expectation,” Gomez adds. “A real guilt if one of us… we did 18 laps and we were looking to do 20, so we had two left. We were sweating and tired. He was in front and I was tapping him, saying: ‘Shall we call it a day?’ And he’s like, ‘Nah.’”

“He’d do the same as well if I tapped him,” Oluwo adds.

“So for the last two seasons that’s been massive for me,” Gomez says. “We do this lactate (endurance) test when we get back. And I’m thinking, ‘I need to be up there.’ Aji was always pushing me. The days when I didn’t want to, he was like, ‘Do you want to compete or not?’”

With ladders and even running parachutes in use, Gomez and Oluwo try to set things up as professionally as possible and also invited others to take part last summer. Some locals accepted the challenge. “They didn’t last and didn’t come again,” Oluwo says, sparking laughter from the pair of them.

“Getting 97 points and not doing it… it’s like saying to Aji throw 500 punches and you’ll win the fight. Then Aji does it and he doesn’t win.”

The fact that Liverpool were so good in the Premier League last season but still didn’t win the title could easily have broken them. Gomez talks about the players being “scarred” by that experience, but not in a way that was negative.

“Having a young team that probably hasn’t had as much exposure to (winning the title) helps,” Gomez says. “There’s only the odd one — Millie (James Milner) has won the Premier League — so that hunger is not really going to go away. If it happened a few times (finishing runners up with so many points) maybe people would try and part ways and think we’re not going to succeed here. But if anything that probably ignited the fire rather than feeling like a kick in the balls.”

That fire has been burning fiercely pretty much ever since. It has been an extraordinary season for Liverpool, even if Saturday’s setback at Watford provided a little reality check and brought their long unbeaten Premier League run to an end.

Gomez had little time for getting caught up in all the “Invincible” talk anyway. In fact, it was of no interest to him when we spoke because he refused to look beyond Watford — a game that he ended up playing no part in.

There was far too much wrong with Liverpool’s performance at Vicarage Road to pin defeat on the absence of one or two players (Jordan Henderson was missing too), but there is also no escaping the fact that the league leaders didn’t look anything like as composed and organised at the back without Gomez.

Maybe his contribution has been overlooked by some. Liverpool have kept 10 clean sheets in the 12 Premier League games Gomez has started since returning to the line-up in December.

Yet is also about what Gomez does with the ball. Liverpool average 87 more passes per game with Gomez in the team, their passing accuracy is three per cent higher and their possession is up four per cent. As for Gomez himself, of the 31 defenders who have made more than 1,000 passes in the Premier League this season, Gomez attempts the most per 90 minutes.

“I feel right now he’s playing probably the best football he’s ever played,” Oluwo says. “We were talking about this before you came, I was telling him that he’s doing a lot more things that he wouldn’t have done a few months back. I was talking about the diagonal passes he does, the longer passes, fizzing the ball through the middle, adding different elements to his game. But there’s still a lot more to come.”

For Gomez, who comes across as incredibly driven and focused, now isn’t the time to assess his displays. “I’m enjoying it. But I’m hungry for more,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed the run of games, but I know I can’t dwell. And that’s the same for the team, now more than ever. So I can’t sit here and feel, ‘Yeah, I’ve had a decent run.’ Until we are in the summer, and there is a little break, and then some focus on whatever happened… I just don’t feel in a reflective mood right now.”

While the league title is a formality, Liverpool have work to do in order to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League after losing the first leg of their last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid 1-0.

Gomez sounds like he is relishing the second leg and it is fascinating listening to him talk about what it is like to play at Anfield under the lights on one of those great European nights, when the volume is cranked up and Liverpool’s players seem to feed off the energy of an atmosphere that can suffocate opponents.

“It definitely has an affect,” Gomez says. “Sometimes it’s too powerful to ignore. Especially the way we play. When you’re in that free state of mind, playing without thinking, and when the noise is… you don’t think, ‘Am I going to get there?’ You just get there.’

Anfield can be so deafening that Gomez admits he struggles to take in the messages from his own team-mates. “Virgil could be shouting: ‘Right shoulder’, and I can’t hear, which is difficult. There are times when Hendo (Henderson) could say: ‘Tell me!’ And I’m like, ‘I did!’ Physically, you can’t shout over the noise.”

Oluwo smiles. He has something that he wants to say about the atmosphere at Anfield and, at the same time, a confession to make. It transpires that he grew up supporting Manchester United, Liverpool’s biggest rivals.

When his best friend signed for Liverpool, he started to waver and then came the moment that tipped him over the edge. “Joe joining Liverpool was the starting point. But I think what really solidified it was…”

“Barcelona,” Gomez says, interjecting.

Oluwo nods. “The Barcelona game. The comeback. That’s when I really found out I had a passion for Liverpool.”

Gomez laughs. “I remember coming into the players’ lounge. If Aji is passionate about something, he’ll express it. It makes me smile when he gets excited. There’s not many things that will get him like that but that was one where I knew it had hit him. I’d never experienced an atmosphere like that.”

Oluwo looks at his phone and finds a recording of the celebrations in the stands after Divock Origi scored the pivotal fourth goal. “I’ve never screamed like that for United. Never. So why wouldn’t I be a Liverpool supporter if I’m screaming like this? I could not believe it. You know when you like something and you fight it for a while? I had goose bumps.”

“It’s crazy,” Gomez says.

Almost as crazy as going home to play Monopoly that same evening.

 

An absolutely amazing read! Epic! Thank you for posting. Joe Gomez - a top player and a top guy bless. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
5 minutes ago, muleskinner said:

Officially annointed tonight. Like we needed confirmation but it's out there now.

NOT GOT TH...  actually, wtf do you mean!? 

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On 01/04/2020 at 09:59, muleskinner said:

He is his preferred CB partner

He actually was asked if there was any CB he’d have liked to play with, so no restrictions on club etc. Shows how much he thinks of Joe!

i was hoping he’d say me :(

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  • 6 months later...

He did well, but during the match I was surprised how passive he was for the longballs Ajax played. It seemed like their striker caught all the passes without much competition for the ball. It was so striking, I was wondering if Gomez and Fab had got instructions to not charge for the ball in case the Ajax player would be through and one-on-one with Adrian.

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Hassony said:

Fabhino defended like a midfielder today, and we missed his presence in midfield as well 

Exactly. We may need to try to keep the option of 'Fabinho at centreback' in reserve for the CL and big six games only. Those games will be less surprising and he'll get to play almost as a libero rather than an urgent, last-ditch, blood 'n guts defender. 

Although, having more than two midfielders would also help. 

 

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