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How to land on your feet, inside Liverpool’s dressing room

How to land on your feet, inside Liverpool's dressing room

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.

Kobe Bryant Was Born to Play Basketball, But For Him It Was Never Enough

Kobe Bryant left the NBA on his own terms on April 13, 2016, scoring 60 scores – more than any other player in the race that season – in his victory over Jazz Jazz when he drew a curtain on his 20th historic year. career.

On Sunday, the 41-year-old tragically left the world in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles, California that killed nine people including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

The outpouring of tributes from those in and out of basketball, including Barack Obama, Rafael Nadal and former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, provides a brief illustration of how Bryant’s legacy will be arranged after his death.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash that killed nine people including his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna on Sunday. The Lakers legend left a formidable legacy on and off the field.

In court, he will go down as one of the biggest ever to play the game, winning five championships, two NBA Final MVPs and two Olympic gold medals, while finishing fourth in career evaluation – he was overthrown by the Lakers captain at this time LeBron James on Saturday.

Outside the court, Bryant had many things: An intellectual who easily switched between Italy, Spain and England; a father who loved four little girls, a novice media mogul who won an Oscar, Barcelona and AC Milan football fans, a champion of women’s sports, and an idea for young players for his winning attitude which he gave the label “Mamba Mentality.”

However, the allegations of sexual assault stemmed from the 2003 incident in Colorado, which was dropped and later solved in court with a civil suit, complicating his legacy in the #MeToo era and causing protests after his Oscar victory in 2018.

But the experience, which cost millions of dollars in support agreements at the time, also developed it as a person and allowed the release of competitors who were not apologetic and sometimes too under-educated in him, he said later.

Bryant (L) modeled his basketball game after Michael Jordan

Bryant (left) modeled his basketball game after Michael Jordan, for whom he sought advice as a rookie star and as a former fighter facing retirement.

Grow with ‘retaliation’

Bryant is the son of a former NBA player, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, who moved to the Italian league when his son was only six years old.

It was in Italy where Bryant’s love for football was composed and where he also experienced racism.

“When I grew up in Italy, I had witnessed then going to certain soccer competitions and things like that,” Bryant recently told Andy Scholes of CNN.
“My parents have taught me and taught me about methods to deal with such things.”

Brazilian star Neymar paid tribute to Bryant after scoring for PSG against Lille on Sunday.

Brazilian star Neymar paid tribute to Bryant after scoring for PSG against Lille on Sunday.

Growing up in Italy arranged younger Bryant socially and competitively, he said.
“Our parents immerse us in Italian customs. We are only surrounded by little Italian children. We only learn their language,” he told O’Neal in an interview for TNT in 2018.

That was also when the killer’s instincts began to develop in court.

“A lot of things have to do with isolation, growing up there and being the only little African-American … I weigh in the game and in that game you find comfort,” he said.

“And when you play with little ones who may not get you because you are an outsider, that is my chance to get revenge against them for not getting me.

“It is always outsiders who come to signify (something) or seek some kind of retaliation,” he added. “I always have the will.”

Bryant will grow into a 6-foot 6-inch point phenomenon as a Philadelphia high school student. He was the first guard to be recruited then from high school to the NBA in 1996 as the 13th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets.

The Lakers’ regular manager, Jerry West, has been eyeing the 18-year-old, and is trading for him in a deal overshadowed by the signing of the excited O’Neal squad.

The dynamic pair will win three NBA Finals from 2000 to 2002, with O’Neal truly the alpha of the team. At the time when the Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 Final, however, friction had already occurred between two superstars who were barely chatting.

The difference between their offseason work manners is largely to blame, with Bryant calling O’Neal “fat and formless,” before the start of their last season.

“I will admit many times I did not come to the tent ready … because I have you, I can relax in the summer,” said O’Neal, who resolved the problem with Bryant, in the TNT Interview. “That’s what keeps me going; my butt is in the gym 10 hours a day,” Bryant answered.

O’Neal was traded to Miami and the Lakers rebuilt around Bryant, who will bring two more championships to the Lakers Nation with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010.

Kobe Bryant (left) celebrates with Shaquille O'Neal after winning the 2000 NBA Championship

Kobe Bryant (left) celebrates with Shaquille O’Neal after winning the 2000 NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers. Two superstars will be canceled by a personal feud after their fourth trip to the finals, but become friends in retirement.