Jordan Henderson felt something special was going to happen at Liverpool the night they suffered a devastating loss to Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League final.
The Reds beat Villarreal, who they face in the Champions League on Wednesday night, to suffer a 3-1 loss to Sevilla in Basel.
A knee injury confined Henderson to the bench that night, and the 31-year-old is just one of five players from Klopp’s squad this season to remain on Merseyside.
Liverpool are preparing to meet Emery again, who is now in charge of Villarreal, but this time in the Champions League semi-finals.
A lot has changed in that time, with Liverpool becoming European champions in the 2018/19 season before winning the Premier League the following season. This season, they are aiming for an unprecedented quadruple.
“I always remember, after the game, going back to the hotel and all the guys were disappointed and we all wanted to go back to our rooms and not see anyone,” Henderson said.
“But the gaffer was a little different from what you would expect. He had everyone downstairs together in the bar and we kind of spent the night together. I felt he knew this was the start of something special to come.
“I always felt he was very different from anything I had ever seen before – and that night always sticks in my mind. He produced that and proved that it was the start of something. Special.
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“It was harder for us as players to see beyond that night because we were so devastated that we had lost a European final. His mentality was different. Yes, he was disappointed, but he knew that was the beginning and I think that confidence then transcends the players.
“As the days go by you try to use that as motivation to be better and to try to qualify for another European final, to improve as a team and to be more successful.
“People will talk about all the things we can win, but I know with a few bad games it can all be over. These are massive, massive weeks, and we have to keep the mentality, the focus, because that’s huge now.
“Hopefully we can continue on the right path, and tomorrow is another great night to take that step in the right direction.”
A comfortable win over Villarreal on Wednesday night at Anfield could put the Reds on course to reach a tenth European final in club history.
However, Emery’s men have already exceeded expectations this season by beating Juventus and Bayern Munich to reach the semi-finals.
Klopp suggested those sides may have underestimated the threat from Villarreal and warned his own players against complacency.
“There could have been a slight advantage [for Villarreal] where Juve or Bayern may have underestimated them, but that won’t happen with us. They want to be in the final but it’s the same importance for us,” Klopp said.
“They are seventh in La Liga. After winning the quarter-final with Bayern, they played against Bilbao and Unai changed 11 times. Spain are obviously competitive.
“It’s a tough league to be successful in, but Unai is showing he has a plan for every 1-0, 1-0, etc. result.
“We have correctly analyzed Villarreal. I have respect for Unai and them. I looked at them properly and wow! Impressive.
“He’s a detail-oriented manager. Different ways of pressing and reacting to different results. A world-class coach who does an amazing job.
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