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Inside Roberto Firmino’s private Liverpool farewell party as Jordan Henderson and Jurgen Klopp…



Inside Roberto Firmino’s private Liverpool farewell party as Jordan Henderson and Jurgen Klopp…

As referee John Brooks performed one final blast of his whistle at the end of the Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, the 54,0000 supporters packed inside Anfield tried to prepare themselves for what was to come next.

But after eight years, seven trophies, and a collection of memories to last a lifetime, nothing could prepare the famous, old stadium for the farewell of one of its most celebrated sons. That, of course, being Roberto Firmino.

The Brazilian was, along with James Milner, making his final Anfield appearance as a Liverpool player over the weekend. It comes after his decision to move away from Merseyside after watching his minutes on the pitch dwindle over the last 18 months as Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo all arrived at the club.

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And to celebrate a player who was instrumental as the Reds won their sixth European Cup in June 2019; scored the winner as Liverpool beat Flamengo to secure a first-ever Club World Cup triumph; was part of the side that ended 30 years of hurt by romping to Premier League success, Firmino’s team-mates reconvened in the hospitality suites of Anfield on Sunday afternoon for a private farewell.

Roberto Firmino of Liverpool is given a guard of honour at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa at Anfield (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

In truth, the celebration of the 31-year-old’s Anfield career had begun some 24 hours earlier as fans arrived in L4 draped in Brazil flags. Rather fittingly, it would be Firmino who would rescue a share of the spoils for the Reds as he converted Mohamed Salah’s cross from close range at the Kop end to cancel out Jacob Ramsey’s first half strike.

As well as the vast amount of Brazil flags on display, the Kop was decorated with its typical, innovative banners for the departing No.9. One particular supporter paid tribute to the Brazilian by photoshopping his face onto the Christ the Redeemer, the famous landmark which sits at the top of Mount Corcovado in the forward’s homeland and is officially recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Upon the final whistle, Firmino, along with the three other departees, would be granted a guard of honour on the Anfield turf, with the Brazilian later serenaded with a spine-tingling rendition of his renowned Kop anthem ‘Si Senor’. The forward did his best to keep his emotions in check and used the players’ end-of-season lap of honour to marvel at the Kop for one final time.

Later, as both Firmino and Milner made their way around the pitch, the pair were each presented with a Golden Samba. The Golden Samba, which is an Adidas trainer spray painted Golden, has become something of a Kop tradition since its introduction in 2011 and is awarded by The Rattle forum to a chosen player(s) at the end of each season. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Jamie Carragher have all previously won the respected accolade.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Firmino would return to Anfield alongside his wife Larissa and three daughters for the last leg of their emotional farewell tour. The first stop for the forward, who has been tipped to sign for Barcelona in the upcoming transfer window, was Rockfield Road for the official unveiling of his mural.

Following in the footsteps of Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Alexander-Arnold, Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, the Brazilian became the Reds’ latest figure to be honoured with the introduction of such street art. On his arrival, he was mobbed by fans, whom he later posed for pictures with, and took time to sign autographs before adding his signature to the bottom of the wonderful craftwork.

“He must’ve been there for about 30 minutes,” says Chloe Bloxam of The Redmen TV. “It all passed by in a blur. The Liverpool team coach arrived and he and his entire family got off. He took some photos with us and Murwalls, signed some tops and had a nice chat with some of us before they took family photos.

“He then took a photo of just him and his mural and looked chuffed, and the crowd started singing his song. He joined in, clapping and singing the words. Afterwards, for security reasons, he went back on the coach as the crowd got into place for a photo. He came off the coach to take two group photos, and he made sure all of the kids were at the front and near him.

“He was absolutely lovely and so were his family. You could tell they were all dead proud that he is now forever a part of this great club and city”

After spending nearly a half-hour outside on Rockfield Road soaking up the appreciation of the hundreds of Kopties in attendance, Firmino then headed inside Anfield where the real celebrations commenced.

It was there his remarkable achievements over the past eight years were brought into sharp focus, with the Firmino family posing for photographs with all seven of the trophies he has collected during his time at the club. The forward was then joined by his team-mates as the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and James Milner stood alongside the Brazilian and his grand display of top-flight honours.

Shortly after as members of the playing squad headed up to the Anfield hospitality suites for a formal celebration, the Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, was quick to laud the much-loved Brazilian one final time in front of his family, friends and peers.

“You are so football smart, in training sessions you are the first to get [understand] the exercise,” said Klopp, speaking to a packed-out suite. “It’s like you saw it once: ‘Ah, okay, go for it’. It’s really special and it makes you the player you are, with all the technical stuff, but your football brain is incredible. That’s all good and makes you the player you are.”

At the end of the celebrations, there was still time for Henderson to pay homage to his Liverpool team-mate and someone he has shared a dressing room with since the early days after Firmino’s transfer from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2015. The Reds skipper awarded the 31-year-old a framed collage with some of the off-the-field moments he has shared with his team-mates over the last eight years. Soon after, Henderson dressed Firmino in a Liverpool top before initiating one final chorus of Si Senior.

Officially, the Brazilian will depart Liverpool in just over a month’s time when his contract expires on June 30. However, this weekend will mark the Brazilian’s 362nd and final appearance for the club as Liverpool conclude their Premier League campaign against Southampton on the South Coast.

Obrigado, Roberto.

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