Anfield myth: anthem. Fear. Tragedies.
The stadium in Liverpool cannot be compared to any other in the world. The fans, the songs, the history – they made the club and their home something special. Rock star Jürgen Klopp fits like a glove to this emotional club. What is behind the Anfield myth? And what awaits the Bavarians tonight?
There are an unbelievable number of fantastic stadiums on this planet, state-of-the-art high-tech arenas, highly sophisticated architectural works. But no football temple is like this one. The Anfield Road in Liverpool, where Dietmar Hamann’s “old castle” stands, has its own flair. At the latest when the floodlights come on on Tuesday, the grandstands fill up at the big boys’ concert and the fans start singing, there will be a unique atmosphere.
The club anthem of the Reds, the “You’ll never walk alone”, is legendary. It makes the people on location tingling inside – no matter how often you’ve heard the verses. “You started singing this song decades ago when the loudspeakers went down,” Hamann recalls. “Today I still get goose bumps as a spectator.
The fear of the opponents: “Games were already lost before the whistle started”.
Even in his professional days it was “something very special”, as he reveals – alone, “when you stood in the tunnel”. He means the narrow path from the catacombs out onto the lawn. This passage, in which the Liverpoolers touch the sign above the stairs as a lucky charm, is no easy one for the opponent, he can unsettle so many players. As a Liverpool player “it makes you a few centimeters taller when you hear the fans,” Hamann says, while the opponents “feel queasy every now and then.
Hamann himself, who wore the Reds jersey from 1999 to 2006 and won the premier league in a memorable final against Milan on 25 May 2005 (3-2 in the final after an initial 3-0 deficit), had experienced this more often than he had shaken the hands of the guest team immediately before the whistle. “I thought to myself on one or two Champions League evenings that a lot would have to happen to lose this game. The opponents seemed so insecure, anxious, nervous or gripped by emotions. “I’m convinced,” says the 45-year-old: “Many games were lost before the match.”
The tragedies have welded this city together.
But where does this extraordinary atmosphere, these impressive emotions come from? “This is a myth”, says Hamann, “the club, the whole city”. This is connected with several factors. On the one hand, Anfield Road has already played “many big games” and celebrated numerous successes; on the other hand, it is also “due to the tragedies”. Back in April 1989, 96 people died in a mass panic during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, the Hillsborough disaster. Among them was the ten-year-old cousin of club legend Steven Gerrard. More than 700 others were injured. The same happened four years earlier at the final of the European Cup of Champions, when Liverpool met Juventus Turin in Brussels and also panicked: 36 dead and more than 400 injured. “These tragedies,” said Hamann, “have welded the city together.
Where the Beatles once moved people, Jürgen Klopp rocks today.
But that’s not all this city in the northwest of England with its 500,000 inhabitants has to offer. Where the cult band “The Beatles” once performed and moved people, Jürgen Klopp now rocks the scene. He sets the pace. And everyone follows him – the fans of “The Kop”, the home grandstand, as well as the rest in the stadium, which can seat up to 54,074 spectators.
Because he, the rock star, led Liverpool back into the sporting charts. Especially in their own living room, the team performs at a high level. 13 out of 15 league games were won by the current Premier League runners-up (one game less), the Reds draw was played twice. And in the Champions League, they scored full points in the group stage. The 51-year-old, the man catcher, is to celebrate the long-awaited championship. The entire Liverpool community has been waiting for it since 1990. The same goes for the title in the premier league, which was missed last year in the final and last won in 2005 – with Hamann against Milan in what is probably the most dramatic final in Champions League history. However, 14 years later, Liverpool will have to overcome FC Bayern Munich in the last 16 to get back the silver medal with the two big handles.
It will be loud. But already after 15 or 20 minutes you can calm down the fans.
“It will be hot, the hut will burn”, Hamann prophesies, who accompanies the game live as co-commentator on the broadcasting station “Sky”: “You have to try to take the emotions out.” He considers the people of Munich to be experienced enough not to be influenced by the atmosphere: “Bavaria is too hard-boiled.
And he also knows: “It will be enormously loud, but it can become very quiet very quickly.” Already after “15 or 20 minutes”, a team that performs self-confidently and buys the edge from Liverpool can “calm the fans”. He experienced that “as a player and as a spectator”. “The mood after 20 minutes will tell us how good or bad the Bavarians are playing,” says the TV expert. So what this means is that it’s worth listening very carefully to this extraordinary football stadium at 9.20 p.m. at the latest.