Sadio Mane revealed that not even Jurgen Klopp believed Liverpool would pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
Following a 3-0 first-leg semi-final defeat at Barcelona, Mane and his Liverpool team-mates faced a seemingly impossible task of overturning the aggregate deficit to reach a second successive final.
Adding to their woes was the loss of star forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
Yet, Liverpool did the unthinkable with Divock Origi and substitute Georgino Wijnaldum bagging braces to seal a 4-0 second leg win at Anfield.
Now Mane has disclosed that not even the Reds’ normally hyperactive and optimistic coach thought the comeback was possible.
“Before the game [against Barca], I had never seen the boss like that,” the 27-year-old told Telefoot.
“Klopp encouraged us but, honestly, not even he believed it. He is exceptional, he makes you want to fight for him and give everything for him.”
Mane is set to return to Merseyside this weekend after spending the past week in southern Spain in a town called Marbella. The squad have been preparing for next Saturday’s Champions League final against Tottenham.
“The final is a one-off game, it will be different from the league, you cannot hide, I think we are favourites,” he said.
On the other hand, Mane’s Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk insisted the sole focus lies on giving it everything they got to win “the big one”.
“It’s going to hurt if you lose – but it’s not the end of the world. The only thing we can do is to give everything and have no regrets if they’re the better team,” said the Dutch centre-back.
“We’re not thinking about losing or how we’re going to overcome this barrier of losing the Premier League by one point, then losing the Champions League.
“That’s not worth thinking about. I’m thinking about playing to our best ability with all our talent and experience.
“I read that if we win the Champions League our next two [out of three] games are the Community Shield and European Super Cup. We can win three cups in three games. It’s something we strive for.
“We were close in the Premier League – but now we have a chance to win the Champions League, the big one. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
Mane has managed 26 goals and five assists in 49 appearances across all competitions this season.
The Senegal international also finished as the joint top-scorer of the Premier League alongside fellow Africans Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.