Jurgen Klopp brought his new substitute goalkeeper off the bench and spoke softly in his ear: “Welcome to Anfield.”
Adrian had only been at the club for four days. He had trained with his team-mates just twice. As he was about to make his debut, did Klopp have anything else to add?
“He hugged me. He showed me I had his trust,” Adrian says. “I felt like the schoolboy who has to introduce himself in front of his new classmates, but what can I say about Anfield? The way the fans embraced me in such a critical moment, losing one of their best players. They gave me total confidence.”
Adrian smiles as he looks back now on that unexpected Anfield bow – and the whirlwind week that followed. The Spaniard, 33, is enjoying life as the guy who landed on his feet in Liverpool half a year ago.
But to really understand him – and how he fits in to a very special team – you have to go back a little further still.
Things might have turned out very differently for Adrian. For a long time it seemed as if his time might never come. After years spent waiting in the wings, he finally made his debut for Real Betis, the club he joined aged 11, when he was 25.
He also came off the bench that day, in the 11th minute, dressed in yellow, with the number 13 on his back, which is also a sign of bad luck in Spain. He conceded four goals before the final whistle in a 4-0 defeat by Malaga on 20 September 2012.
A few months later, there was another low point: a 5-1 thrashing by city rivals Sevilla.
But Adrian was never going to give up, and the confidence of his manager – former West Bromwich Albion boss Pepe Mel – helped him through.
“I often think about that match,” Adrian says. “It was one of my career’s key moments. Pepe was the first manager to give me a chance as a professional.
“He trusted me beyond any mistake I could have made that day. A week later we beat Real Madrid 1-0 at home, and I stopped several goals. Man of the match. Kind of. Since then I’ve improved a lot. I’m very grateful to him.”
At the end of that 2012-13 campaign, with 32 games under his belt and with Betis struggling financially, Adrian would move on. The Premier League was his next destination. He packed his bags and left for West Ham United as a free agent. And he would keep that number 13 shirt.
For a 26-year-old Andalusian who had never been abroad and spoke only in his mother tongue, it was the start of an adventure that would bring much joy, but also disappointment. Towards the end of his time with the Hammers he had lost his starting spot, and with his contract up last summer – having made 150 appearances over six years at the club – he was once again free to move on.
Without a team, he spent pre-season training alone in Pilas, on pitches used by a local non-league side, 30 miles away from his hometown of Seville. It was anything but easy.
“I’d made a drastic decision not to stay any longer at West Ham, despite having a three-year contract offer on the table,” he says. “I hadn’t played a single game all season in the Premier League. I didn’t feel valued economically either, to be honest. It was tough for me.
“Summer came and then I felt those butterflies in my stomach. I knew something good was coming. I was already aware of Liverpool’s interest before I received the first offers.
“They called me at the end of July. They said that they’d sell [Simon] Mignolet if I gave the deal the green light. That’s how it happened.”
Real Betis might have been in for him too – Adrian even fantasised over the idea of making a return – but there was uncertainty following the departure of Quique Setien, now manager at Barcelona.
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“It could have worked but the new staff still had to decide what kind of keeper they needed,” he says. “In the end, they signed a much younger player. I didn’t fit their profile, but we’re professionals no matter what we feel inside. My final decision wasn’t that bad after all, was it?”
Adrian laughs. He is a man who laughs often. And right now there is a lot to laugh about in the Liverpool dressing room. Their 22-point lead will surely lead to a first league title in 30 years. But nobody’s talking about how close they are, not even the man most responsible for Liverpool’s remarkable recent success.