Adrian expressed his pride in continuing to represent Liverpool FC after extending his time at Anfield by signing a new contract today.
The goalkeeper has agreed a fresh deal with the Reds having made 24 appearances and lifted three major trophies since joining in August 2019.
Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com in reaction to the news, Adrian explained why continuing his role with Jürgen Klopp’s side was his priority and detailed the motivation within the squad to compete for silverware again next season.
The No.13 also discussed the strong connections in the club’s goalkeeping department following a challenging 2020-21 campaign that ended with Liverpool in excellent form and safely qualified for the Champions League.
Read or watch our interview with Adrian…
Adrian, firstly congratulations on signing your new LFC contract – how does it feel?
Thank you very much. I’m delighted, I’m very happy to stay in the club. Firstly, because it’s a reward from the club for the hard work that I’ve been doing since I signed two years ago. I really appreciate that confidence from the club, from the manager and from everyone involved in that situation. And secondly, and above all of that, it’s a pleasure to stay in Liverpool – it’s such a big club. But being as well a family club, it’s very special for any player to stay here. I am privileged.
How did those discussions go? Were there any factors to talk through or was it quite a simple decision for you?
It started around April when Michael’s team contacted my agent and showed the intentions of the club. Then after that I had some meetings with them personally; many talks with John and Jack, the goalkeeping coaches. With Jürgen, Pep. At the end of the day, staying was always my priority. To be fair, I had some options as well away, being out of contract. But also for me, it’s really important that the family is well settled to the city, to the UK – it’s not my first year there. The kids are enjoying school also, learning some Scouse! It’s not just the personal side, it’s also my family. Everyone is happy there, so having the option to continue was not a difficult decision for me.
How beneficial is it to get this done now? You can have a break and know your plans are set for pre-season in July…
It’s massive, it gives you the calm in your mind to enjoy the holidays, to rest, to enjoy the family time. We are in Spain now, enjoying the good weather here as well, sunny days. That is so important for us as a professional football player: to be, as I say, calm in your mind. To rest, to recover your battery and to be thinking just about July when we start the pre-season again and we go again for a new and exciting season.
So much has happened on and off the pitch since you joined, it’s still less than two years ago. How do you reflect on it?
To be fair, it’s been a very intense two seasons. As you know, my quick debut with the club, then the Super Cup, all that historical season, 2019-20. And after that the COVID situation came, last season was like it was. But I think, to be fair, we showed as a group the unity we have, the togetherness – that mentality the group is showing from the beginning when the manager came to the club and changed all that mentality. We showed [it] again. Obviously last season was a bit tricky and hard in some situations, but we finished on a high and obviously everyone can be resting because everyone gave their best until the end.
What has the club come to mean to you over the last couple of years?
It means a lot. As football players we change club normally. I played many years for Real Betis, some good seasons for West Ham as well. And now going for the third season and the fourth at Liverpool. I’m a person that gives 200 per cent of myself to the club that I’m playing for because as football players we are a very privileged person because we are doing what we love. So, I like to give everything on and off the pitch, helping the teammates, helping the team when they have the opportunity to play as well. Also, I like to involve my family because it’s really important for us that everyone is in the same bucket. When the family is involved as well as my family is involved, [there are] some pictures with my kids in Anfield touching the badges; I love it because I show them what their dad is doing, what the job of their dad is. They understand as well. My wife and family are coming along from Spain to Liverpool many times. Obviously it means a lot in that moment, not just because we were successful and we got some titles in the last seasons, just because it’s a massive club, lovely fans – one of the best. That’s the most important thing for a football player.
It was a massively challenging season for the goalkeepers, for various reasons – did it make you come even closer together as a group?
Yeah, for sure, totally. We had many ups and downs. As goalkeepers we have to be all together; just one can play but we are a nice group with John and Jack, the goalkeeping coaches, Ali, Caoimhin, the younger [players]. We have a lovely group, but hard workers. We love to work hard every day. We spend a long time together, more than with the rest of the outfield players. Ali’s situation with the family, we are all together – we were like brothers and friends trying to help him in that situation. Because we are not machines, we are human beings and we have moments in our lives. In that moment we supported Ali 200 per cent. In other moments they supported me, or Caoimhin. We are together in that. Our target is bigger than our personal targets; the target of the club is to try to get everything in every competition. I think the mentality of the goalkeeper group is top, it’s super.
And there was even a goal from the goalkeeping department this season. We know you scored a penalty in the past, but a goalkeeper scoring a header must have been a new one for you?
You can imagine how we feel in that moment. I felt that when I scored a penalty in the FA Cup with West Ham against Everton. That day was amazing, having that feeling that you score a goal and you give the three points in that case which Ali gave us in that scenario, was amazing. The celebration on the pitch was incredible; on the bench I was jumping – I even fell down the stands. Because we couldn’t believe [it]. But, yeah, that happened. That is life, that is football: believe until the end, believe we can get good things. Ali went to that corner with that mentality and the end of the situation, everyone knows how it finished!
That was another hurdle you overcame as a team, of many last season, to eventually get third place and a Champions League place. How big an achievement do you consider that as a group?
To be fair, we can be totally happy with that. Finishing third wasn’t our target, we are Liverpool FC, a big club and we play to win everything in every competition. But we can be realistic as well; we are not machines, we are human beings, we have ups and downs. The 2019-20 season was historical for the club, the expectations were very, very high but last season was so different. [It was a] weird situation without fans, playing in Anfield. An empty stadium is very cold; we have to adapt as professional football players, we know, but it was quite hard. We had many injuries – not an excuse, but for sure many things happened against us in that situation. But we showed that resilience again, that mentality again and to finish third seeing the season how it was – maybe in the last 10 games nobody believed in us to finish in the Champions League [places] – but we believed, we were working hard every day. We showed again that mentality of the group, that mentality of the manager, the staff, all the people involved in the club who give us that strength. At the end, finishing third and [qualifying for] the Champions League again for next season is a massive achievement for us.
It’s a unique and fascinating situation with goalkeepers because only one of you can play – so how do you approach that situation with Ali and Caoimhin because you’re competing but also supporting each other every day?
As I always say, the competition makes us better – not just in the goalkeeper position, in life – when you have healthy competition to give your best. Then, at the end of the day, it’s the manager’s decision who is playing or not. Ali is a super, top goalkeeper, one of the best in the world. He is showing [that] every game he is playing. Not just scoring goals! Making some saves – good saves – and giving points to the team. Being together and helping each other is the most important thing in the goalkeeper mentality. Also, when Caoimhin made his debut many people were asking me if I wanted to play, what did I say? I supported him. And he told the press as well that I support him every time. He is younger, he has a long time to keep playing and keep improving as well. I tried to do what the most experienced players did with me when I was a bit younger than now. I tried to help him, give some advice, motivation, supporting, having that confidence that you feel better and you feel bigger when you play. My position, as I say, I’m always trying to work hard, to give my best, to keep pushing and give that competition. And enjoying our job because, as I say, we are very privileged to do what we love, and we love to play. Obviously sometimes we are a bit selfish because we want to play everything. But we have to understand we have a big group; you have your role sometimes, you have another role another time. So we have to adapt and give everything for the club.
Jürgen mentioned your professionalism several times last season and the important role you play whether you’re on the pitch or not. How important is that to you?
I try to help the team in every moment. To try to enjoy and give my experience in every second, to the player who plays in that moment or when I play, to try to be together at the same time. As Jürgen said, I’m a team player – I try to support, to give that confidence to those players, to try to give that confidence in the dressing room, in the training ground every day. To push each other. Because when you are giving your best, the other one is giving their best for sure and you’re pushing each other. At the end, it’s good for the club, for the group, for the manager as well to take the right decision in the moment for the game. I’m happy to do that job and also to try to have my opportunity as well and give the best when I have the chance.
Looking ahead to next season, there must be a renewed and increased determination in the squad to battle for major silverware again?
Yeah, for sure. Next season is going to be very exciting. Hopefully again with the fans – that is a very, very important thing for us as well. Everyone knows Anfield is another player for us when it’s full and the people are pushing and shouting and supporting us. We can feel it. This season, obviously we did not have that plus in our stadium. Hopefully next season is going to be so different, we’re going to have our best supporter in the crowd. It’s also going to be exciting in another part because we want to improve on the season we finished a few weeks ago. We want to improve, for sure. We’re going to give everything. Football is unpredictable and you can win, lose or draw. But I like to say: sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. And this season we learned a lot. We learned about the situation we were living and it’s going to be very useful for next season, for sure.
There were 10,000 fans back at Anfield for the last game of the season. You and the other players must be desperate to, hopefully, see even more regularly next season?
For sure. We were talking after the game because it looked like a different game. It looked strange, to be fair, because we had to adapt to an empty stadium – as I said before, very cold and silent. It was quite difficult for us, the external motivation is zero. We had to show that motivation from us, from the dressing room, from the group that is in the stadium before starting on the game to be in the game from the first second and on the front foot. We are expecting to feel Anfield full of people, full of Reds fans supporting and pushing us in a good moment, and supporting in a bad moment as well because we will have [them] for sure. We have to show again that unity between the club, the fans and the players.
Finally, what are your hopes and ambitions for yourself and the team in the future?
Personally, to keep giving my best version. Keep pushing from the first second that we wear a Liverpool FC shirt. Keep giving the best to get some titles. At the end of the day, titles are not easy when many teams are pushing and working hard as well, trying to get them. But our fans can be very calm and very relaxed because we’re going to give everything to get those titles again, to give them some trophies again as we did two seasons ago. And yes, keep enjoying playing football. And they have to keep enjoying as well, supporting us from the crowd, the stadium or around the world. We’re going to improve for sure next season because they deserve [it]. We are Liverpool FC and we have to go for everything.