He’s played at the Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeu, Old Trafford and San Siro, but Xavi Hernandez will always remember one night at Anfield in 2001.
The World Cup winner was part of the Barcelona team that won 3-1 at Liverpool in the Champions League 15 years ago.
Michael Owen gave Liverpool the lead but goals from Patrick Kluivert, Fabio Rochemback and Marc Overmars sealed Barcelona’s victory. But Xavi remembers the game for the passionate support shown by Liverpool’s fans throughout the whole 90 minutes, admitting it left him “speechless”.
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Xavi is now plying his trade in Qatar for Al Saad FC but the midfielder winner was a regular on the big stage, appearing in Champions League, World Cup and European Champions finals.
But a stadium is nothing if the fans aren’t there to fill it with passion, and Xavi was stunned when Liverpool fans cheered their team on even while 3-1 down.
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“The fans remained for the whole game and never stopped applauding their team,” the 36-year-old told FourFourTwo, per the Liverpool Echo.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was speechless.”
Liverpool are known for having passionate fans
Liverpool loves two things: The Beatles and their football team. The Reds boast one of the most zealous fanbases in the world football and Jurgen Klopp has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the club’s followers since his arrival in October.
After the impressive 2-0 Europa League win over Manchester United last month, the German said: “Atmosphere tonight, not that I'll forget it, was absolutely unbelievable. It was really great and I want to say thank you to everyone who was involved in this atmosphere.
“It was easy to enjoy from the first till the last second. This was Liverpool how I knew it before I came here so that was really, really great and thank you for this.”
When Johan Cruyff passed away on March 24, Liverpool’s Twitter account posted a quote from the Dutch legend that read: “I sat there watching the Liverpool fans and they sent shivers down my spine. A mass of 40,000 people became one force behind their team.”
So Xavi isn’t the first, and he certainly won’t be the last, to detail what it’s like playing in front of the Kop.
Xavi admired John Barnes
The former Barca star, who won eight La Liga titles, is fully aware that English fans take to football differently than Spanish ones.
He said: “English football has always been in Spain’s retina. England breathes football in a way Spain doesn’t. In England, a footballer is like a god.”
And which Liverpool player did Xavi admire growing up?
“I remember watching John Barnes at Liverpool - wow, what a player he was.”
Liverpool, it sounds like you’ve got another fan.