'I felt a bit unstoppable' - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reflects on LFC journey
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will forever cherish the 'unstoppable' feeling he experienced at Liverpool.
The midfielder is set to conclude his six-year spell with the Reds this summer having helped Jürgen Klopp’s team secure some of the most coveted trophies in the game.
Beyond the medals, he has developed close bonds with teammates and supporters alike, and departs with vivid memories of the unshakeable belief and conviction that drove the squad he was part of to glory – beginning for him during a 2017-18 season that was lit up especially by a pair of superlative finishes against Manchester City.
“That moment specifically was like a moment of reckoning where I feel like for myself personally, that was the first sort of moment in my career where I sort of felt a bit unstoppable,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Liverpoolfc.com in a special farewell interview.
Watch Oxlade-Chamberlain's farewell interview in full
“And I think all of us together sort of grew into that at the same time. I kind of knew Mo before but seeing that same season how Mo just became a superstar, something he’d been working on for years before Liverpool was realised in that season for himself.
“Hendo, who has just been the ultimate professional and obviously was here for years before. Him being able to lead a team that could do what we did at that point, I’m proud that he got that moment that he deserved with that.
“Millie, Robbo… I remember playing against Robbo for Hull. I can remember playing against him many times and thinking it was going to be an easy day – I saw him line up, dodgy haircut, boots not looking too nice, I thought, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be easy.’ [But] I always had a tough day against Robbo.
“And then seeing him in that same season, he started off where Alberto [Moreno] was playing really well, then he just grew into what he is now: one of the best left-backs in the world.
“I feel like we all came into that moment at the same time and that made it even more special. And doing it a club like this and how much the fans love success. Even before me, I’ve never looked at this club as anything but having amazing support, even through times of maybe not winning as much as they would have liked, with some top, top, top players.
“Then for us to have had that opportunity to give them that, that moment was just special. And luckily we managed to carry that on to some extent for the years to come as well.”
The Englishman’s debut Anfield campaign was so cruelly cut short by a serious knee injury sustained in a tackle during the Champions League semi-final against AS Roma.
In the short term it halted his progress and denied him the chance to feature in the European Cup final; but in the long term it sidelined Oxlade-Chamberlain for an entire year.
Upon completing his rehabilitation, however, he came back strongly and featured regularly in the Liverpool side that ended the club’s 30-year wait to clinch the league title again.
There were also the highs of triumphs in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2019-20, and though further injury misfortune prevented the No.15 from playing more in recent seasons, Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup medals were added to the collection last term.
“I think that’s something more you’ll look back on when you’ve hung your boots up completely and finished,” he said of the success he has contributed to for the club.
“But when I think about it and you’ve brought it up, it’s hard not to think about how special those moments were and how lucky I am to have been a part of something so successful, with great people. And again, that’s the main thing that I love the most about it.
“I guess certain teams can have years of success, a good season here and a good season there and achieve something special and then the team will change quite a lot – people leave, people come in. But I feel like this group has been very solid, a lot of the same boys have been here from the start when I came in.
“We sort of built this last five years of success together. And we have had tough moments in there as well together, and it’s a lot of the same faces. When you go a period of time with a very similar set of people – players and staff – I think that’s what makes it more special.
“That’s what I’m really proud to have been a part of and I’m thankful that I got to share those moments with certain people, for sure.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain said a poignant farewell to Anfield as a Liverpool player following last month’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Aston Villa.
And as part of his reflections on the past half-a-dozen years, he described the power of the Reds’ stadium and the emotions it is capable of stirring – as a home player and as a visitor.
“It’s not nice [as an opposition player], it was never, ever a nice game to come to and one you were definitely a bit nervous for. But at the same time you were always up for it,” he said.
“But then if Liverpool got the upper hand and the fans kicked in, it felt sometimes like there’s nothing you could do. I think when I was at Arsenal we had one win here in that time, and we had a few other games where we did well and then again something happened in the stadium.
“I remember Bobby scoring two one game, I think Skrtel might have scored, and what was looking like we could get three points, it was a draw and we were hanging on for dear life. As an opposition player that’s not nice.
“On the flip side, playing for Liverpool when that happens, honestly it feels like you know you’re going to win. I remember times in that first season, the second season when I was injured and just seeing the lads, you kind of just know you’re going to win.
“I don’t know how or why, it doesn’t matter who’s there, who you’re playing against, you just have that feeling of ‘Yeah, we’re going to be able to go and do this, no problem today.’
“Over the years that probably happened more often than not. That’s something special and I’ll definitely miss that, for sure.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has taken the opportunity to say goodbye to teammates and staff at the AXA Training Centre in recent weeks, though he fully intends to keep in touch in the future.
“Of course you miss special nights at Anfield, Champions League nights, lifting trophies at a club like this. You’ll miss all of that. But yeah, the first thing you think you’re missing straight away is the people,” he said.
“That’s definitely the thing in my mind. [At the last game at Anfield] I got a bit emotional seeing the lads that I love and I’ve been a part of this with them for a long time. I knew some of them – Hendo, Millie – before here.
“They’re the things that come to mind when I think [about] what I will really miss. It will be people like that. And there’s so many great people that work here that I’ll definitely miss.”