Read Jürgen Klopp's final matchday programme notes of the season in full.
Good afternoon and for the first time in what feels like a lifetime I would like to say welcome back to Anfield as 10,000 of you return for the final Premier League game of our season. I also welcome Roy Hodgson, his staff, players and the officials of Crystal Palace to our home.
I spoke in the media earlier in the week about Roy when it was announced he was leaving Palace. I specify this because he hasn’t said he won’t continue in the game and knowing Roy you would never rule that out.
He is a brilliant person and a super manager. It’s no exaggeration to say he was an innovator in our industry – someone coaches of my generation look up to and learned from. I’m sure that’s the case for lots of managers and coaches, actually, of all ages.
What a career he has had. Leading some of the top clubs in Europe, including LFC, international teams, his own country’s national team and latterly his home club. I am so pleased he leaves Palace having been a huge success with them.
Whatever he chooses to do next, I’m sure it will involve this game of ours somehow. On behalf of everyone at Liverpool Football Club we wish him well... although not until after the game today.
And this is an important point because for us today it’s not about sentiment. We have a massive challenge ahead of us. This is a final for us. We face a top team with top players. They have the highest motivation.
I cannot emphasise enough how much we all need to focus, be hungry, be ready and give everything. Anything less than everything won’t be enough. That’s the truth.
Yes, the past weeks and months have been good. We have played well. The boys have worked hard. But all of that was to help us to arrive in this position today.
We have to be ready to win the fight before we can even contemplate winning the game. We have to be ready to work harder than our opponent. Be more committed than our opponent. More composed. Play our football. Be us!
We don’t make this bigger than it needs to be – it is big, we know it. And big games need big performances.
So we don’t think about what happens elsewhere. We don’t think about previous games and we don’t worry about next season. It’s about this 90 minutes plus stoppage time today. That’s it – all that matters. Be in the moment today and give our all.
Even though all our attention is on the game, there are other things I must acknowledge in this column because it is the last match of this campaign. We have one of our longest-serving members of staff working his last game for us. Mr Graham Carter, who has been with this amazing club for decades, retires after today.
What a guy. What an important person for LFC. I will miss his pre-match hugs like you won’t believe. Graham loves a holiday so I think we will miss him maybe more than he misses us. But I can’t wait to see him at Anfield as a supporter, with his grandchildren. They can be so proud of their grandpa for what he has done in his career.
On the playing staff we have a hugely important player who is out of contract with us. This is hard to write because you never say never and at the time of writing this, he has not confirmed his intentions for next season. But I must recognise him just in case this is his Anfield farewell.
Gini Wijnaldum. An LFC legend now and forever. What this person – this wonderful, joyful, selfless person – has done for our team and club I cannot sum up in words, in truth, because my English is not good enough.
He is an architect of our success. We have built this Liverpool on his legs, lungs, brain and his huge, beautiful heart. If – and it is still if – he goes, he does so knowing we as his teammates are eternally grateful for having this special human being come into our lives. I love him and he will always be family.
So to finish this column for another season it is vital to remember that its biggest game needs to be played. But I can still express thanks to the amazing people who have guided us through what I would say has been the most difficult period of our professional lives.
The wider LFC staff, be it here at Anfield, the AXA Training Centre, the Academy, Chapel Street, the club shops and various other sites. They’ve continued to shine and step up to make sure our club could operate and this team could play.
My own staff and all the first-team employees who started this season at Melwood and moved to our new home in the autumn/winter. We, as a team, would be nothing without them. Really, nothing.
The players have been through so much, seen and unseen. They have stuck together. They have shown their quality. This club is so blessed to have this extraordinary group of young men representing it.
To all our families – of the players, staff and of course my own. Without them to share our burden it would not be possible to do what we do. This season more than any other they have been the wind at our backs.
And finally our supporters. Ten thousand are back today and of course we all pray that next season we can times that number by five. But for today, it’s enough.
Like the team, they have a job to do. Everyone with a ticket for the game today is immensely privileged. We, as players and staff, are likewise. Because we can be here – at Anfield.
So we have a massive responsibility for those who want to be here, but cannot. We must throw ourselves into the occasion. Give all our energy for every second of this hugely important game. If we do that, we can ask no more of ourselves.