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Jurgen Klopp hails Liverpool's Carabao Cup win as ‘most special victory’ of career

Jurgen Klopp with the Carabao Cup after Liverpool's win over Chelsea
Jurgen Klopp's team were down to the bare bones against Chelsea with almost an entire XI injured - Getty Images/Nigel French

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed the “most special victory” of his managerial career as his side packed with academy youngsters kept the quadruple dream alive.

Virgil van Dijk’s 118th-minute winner in the Carabao Cup final condemned Chelsea to a third consecutive domestic final defeat by Klopp’s Liverpool.

But this was more embarrassing than 2022, as the Chelsea team that finished the match, constructed in a £500 million transfer spree, were branded “blue billion-pound bottle jobs” by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville for failing to take advantage of Liverpool’s injury crisis.

For Liverpool’s “kindergarten Klopps” there was only euphoric joy as they won without 11 senior players, and suffered more injury torment during the 120 minutes. Klopp ended by fielding an XI that included three teenagers and five academy products, which cost around a third of the team they defeated.

“I loved it. Come on. What I saw today is so exceptional, it might not happen again,” said an emotional Klopp.

“Not because I am on the sidelines, but because these things don’t happen in football. I got told outside there is a saying in English football, ‘ You don’t win anything with kids?’ Yeah.

“In more than 20 years it is easily the most special trophy I have ever won. It is absolutely exceptional. Sometimes people ask me if I’m proud of things and it’s really tricky. I wish I could feel pride more often. But tonight is an overwhelming feeling.

“Oh my god, what’s going on? I was proud of everyone involved in everything here. I was proud of our people for the way they pushed us, I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere surrounding where these boys can just do what they are best at. I was proud of our Academy, I was proud of my coaches, I was proud of so many things. It was completely overwhelming.

“It was nothing to do with it being maybe my last game at Wembley, I checked that and it was nothing to do with that. It was really because of how everybody contributed. Seeing the faces after the game of the kids. Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because this happened before, this happened before… this tonight, if you find the same story with Academy players coming on against a top, top side and still winning it, I’ve never heard of it.”

Jurgen Klopp celebrates after winning the Carabao Cup final
Klopp's pride at victory stemmed from the contribution of Liverpool's youngsters - Getty Images/Robin Jones

Liverpool’s victory was secured without Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, as well as a host of other first-teamers.

Asked if the performance underlined what he will be leaving to his successor when departing this summer, Klopp said: “I couldn’t care less about my legacy, I am not here to create one.

“From time to time you need something to really celebrate. This was so special, you saw the game and saw the circumstances. They become bigger. We had a referee who was not up to the game, no common sense again. Getting through all this - you see tired players and we have players until the end of the match who have problems. We asked Harvey [Elliott] to stay on, Lucho [Diaz] to stay. I have no idea who can play on Wednesday but tonight is a night I will never forget.

“As a manager of a football club you are there to do the job, nothing that we did in the last eight and a half years is irreplaceable. It was made for this combination.

“We learned so much during this time. It is not a problem if the manager leaves. The problem is if the supporters leave.

“As long as they are how they are here, Liverpool will be fine.”

For Mauricio Pochettino it was a chastening evening. Asked about Neville’s damning verdict, he said: “I think if you compare the age of the two groups, I think it is similar. I have a good relationship with Gary. I don’t know how I can take his opinion, but I respect his opinion.

“But it is true we didn’t keep the energy that we finished the second half. I don’t know how you can describe the situation, but for sure I feel proud. I feel proud of the players. I feel they made the effort. We are a new team and nothing to compare with Liverpool.

“He knows the dynamics are completely different. I think it is not fair to talk in this way if he said that. I believe in this project and see what we can do in the future.”

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