Jürgen Klopp made a mockery of his critics as Kostas Tsimikas moment sums up Liverpool change

Jürgen Klopp made a mockery of his critics as Kostas Tsimikas moment sums up Liverpool change

James Milner could not watch. Sadio Mané, who had already missed his spot-kick earlier in the shoot-out, would have been in bits. But Liverpool full-back Kostas Tsimikas stepped up, held his nerve, and became the hero.

Liverpool have won the FA Cup for a multitude of reasons, but their squad depth is perhaps the biggest one. Often criticised by pundits and various commentators for their approach, Liverpool did not take the FA Cup (or Carabao Cup) more seriously this season: they simply had a better squad available from which to make changes and still compete at the very highest level.

It was fitting, therefore, that it was Tsimikas, the Reds’ back-up full-back, who netted the winning goal and gets to take the headlines. Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp did not suddenly decide they wanted to win the FA Cup; players like Tsimikas needed to be signed for them to do so.

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“It is very special for me. The manager asked which number I want and he asked why so far? Number seven gave me the chance to win the game!” he told the BBC at full-time.

The smile plastered across his face as he did so shows exactly what it means for the Greek Scouser to have scored at Wembley. He might have generally played second fiddle in his position this season, but that made it all worthwhile.

Few would have imagined that he would be on the field given Andy Robertson only came off because he was cramping up, but Tsimikas was trusted by the Liverpool coaching stuff to see the game out — and then step up to the plate and score.

Since signing for Liverpool, he has become a fan favourite, and a favourite of his teammates too, striking up a bond with Thiago Alcântara, among others.

Tsimikas is not at the same level as Robertson, but is, crucially, in the same mould; a player in the same style, who does not change the way Liverpool play when he is on the field.

It has always been a tough ask keeping fringe players happy, with Takumi Minamino, a crucial part of the domestic cup campaigns this season, not even making the bench at Wembley.

With Tsimikas, at least, those questions have been knocked a little further down the line. There can be no doubting what it means to him to be a part of the Liverpool squad — and for the Greek Scouser, that will not be changing any time soon.

Assam Press