Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah used a photograph of his tearful Champions League final of 12 months ago to inspire him to return and win the European Cup for the first time.
Salah’s evening in Kiev last year ended after half an hour when he sustained a shoulder injury in a clash with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos.
It was a pivotal moment in the match, and one the 26-year-old was keen to remind himself of for extra motivation when they came up against Tottenham in Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
‘I looked at the picture from last year before the game,’ said Salah, who scored the opening goal from the penalty spot in only the second minute.
‘I was very disappointed that I got injured and went out after 30 minutes and we lost the game. It was something to motivate me to win. I didn’t look at the picture for a long time. You can feel what can beat you, so I just looked at it one time and said ”OK, let’s go”.’
The Egyptian said he believed in fate and felt he would achieve something special this time around.
‘Yeah, of course. Absolutely. Our job is more mental and you have to believe in yourself before the game,’ he said.
‘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.
Believe, work hard, and it’ll happen. pic.twitter.com/F11eKYgZgK
— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) June 2, 2019
‘We were a little bit disappointed after the final [last year], and now we are back and have won it again, the sixth time for Liverpool, it is something great.’
Since his stellar debut season for Liverpool, Salah has been linked with a move, in the main, to Real Madrid, and his first trophy for the club will no doubt spark another round of summer rumours.
However, he believes he can currently satisfy his ambitions at Anfield and is already looking towards the next piece of silverware.
‘Of course. We play every year with ambition,’ he said.
‘This year our target was the Champions League and the Premier League. We lost the Premier League by one point, so that was also a big disappointment.
‘You can’t finish your season with losing a game. We did everything to win the game and we deserved it. The first trophy and it’s the Champions League. It’s the start. It’s the first competition. 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 for the Champions League. The year before the Europa League.
You’ll Never Walk Alone. pic.twitter.com/AO1ejUnYco
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 2, 2019
‘The average age of [the squad] is 26 or 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, scored a second goal after 86 or 87 minutes and we were patient in the game.’
On the subject of being calm, Salah’s penalty was coolness personified as he drilled home with virtually his first touch.
It was, however, only the second-most important spot-kick of his career.
He faced even more pressure in October 2017 when he carried the weight of a nation on his shoulders in a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Congo.
‘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 that [in the final] was easier,’ he said.
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