Dejan Lovren has hailed the calming influence of Virgil van Dijk on the Liverpool backline since his arrival at the club in January.
Tthe Dutchman has played a key role in his new team securing a top-four finish and reaching the final of the Champions League since his move from Southampton during the winter transfer window.
As such, he has a chance to cap an impressive first half-season at Anfield with the biggest prize in European football when the Reds take on Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday evening.
Lovren is likely to line up alongside the 26-year-old at the heart of defence against Zinedine Zidane's team, and was effusive in his praise of his partner in a press conference to preview the fixture.
"I said many times, it’s always good to [bring] quality and Virgil definitely has quality that helped the team improve defensively and also brings calmness into the team," he said.
"Of course, I feel also personally much more confident when you know you have a really good partner next to you.
"He showed already in Southampton that he is one of the best defenders in the Premier League and it's great that we didn't take so much time to connect [with] each other in the game.
"Usually it takes more [time] but, when you have the quality, you show it the next day and feel it in the team - and this is also how I feel. We had quite good games this season."
Lovren's pre-final media briefing also saw him discuss Trent Alexander-Arnold's recent England call-up, Mohamed Salah's Ballon d'Or hopes, and the prospect of facing Cristiano Ronaldo.
Read on for a full transcript.
On Trent Alexander-Arnold's inclusion in the England squad...
First of all, I want to congratulate him in front of you. I did it already when I heard the news and I’m really quite happy [for] him. He's a brilliant lad and an even better player, I would say. He deserves [it], he had a brilliant season from the beginning, from day one. He's shown he is really mature for his age. To me, he looks 14 or 15, not like a 19-year-old! But, how he plays, he doesn’t look 19, he looks with his experience, that he has played a couple of years here with us. Hopefully he will stay for a long time here.
On what it means to be in the Champions League final...
I would say it’s a dream come true for every one of our players. From my point of view, I always dreamed to be in the Champions League and, of course, I dreamed to one day to lift the trophy. Now we have the biggest chance of our lives, for some of us maybe it’s the only one. For some of us there will be many more hopefully but we need to be proud of ourselves, we did a great job from the beginning. When you look back [from] the play-off against Hoffenheim [to now] we really deserve to be in the final. Hopefully, in many years from now we can say to our kids and family that we did our best and that we won the trophy. We have nothing to lose, we will give our best in the final and everyone is fit and ready. We just can’t wait to start.
On speaking to Croatia teammates Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic...
We were talking before the semi-finals, before the draw, and I said, 'I want to catch you for the final'. They said, 'OK, we are ready for you!' Let’s see what will happen now we are in the final. For them - three [times] a row in the final - they are used to it but, again, they are also a really competitive team who want to [achieve] something impossible. For them, they already made history but they can beat it. For us also we have something to catch, for the whole squad [it] is the first time in the final of the Champions League. We know what we are playing for, we know how hard it was in pre-season. It will be a great final to enjoy, we need to enjoy every minute on the pitch and hopefully we can go with a smile.
On Mohamed Salah's hopes of winning the Ballon d'Or...
I spoke to Mo about that but it's still quite early stages. If we win [the final], definitely he’s one of the contenders, he can be in the top three best players in the world. He has the quality, he has this world-class experience already and he is still calm, a man down to earth and he deserves every credit, every goal he has scored. Definitely we will help him to achieve this dream for himself personally. When you score 44 goals [you are one of the best] definitely. When you look at Messi, Ronaldo, [after] it's Mo Salah. He deserves to be in the top three.
On the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo...
Ronaldo, Salah, Messi, you need to respect these players a lot. Every year he scores more than 30 goals, if he has a bad season he scores 30 goals so, of course, we need to pay attention to that. But we play, in the Premier League, against [some] of the best strikers in the world. We know how to defend like a team, when you want to stop Ronaldo we will stop him together. Of course, in some parts of the game it will be one against one and it will be tough, but it’s a challenge that I’m ready for. I’ve been working so hard to come into the final of the Champions League and I’m ready for everything.
On his message to supporters ahead of the final...
It’s brilliant to see how many fans are supporting us in this final. It's brilliant to see the red shirts around the stadium. I wish I could give everyone a ticket but it's really not possible. I know people will really support us here in Liverpool, around the world, on every corner. We know they are behind us and, like I said many times, they are our 12th man.