I’ve loved prov­ing my doubters wrong, says Salah

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BYCARLMARKHAM

LIVER­POOL for­ward Mo Salah ad­mits he al­ways had a drive to re­turn to the Premier League to prove his crit­ics wrong and now hopes the sea­son will have a spe­cial end to it.

The Egypt in­ter­na­tional ar­rived from Roma last sum­mer with many crit­ics ques­tion­ing his sign­ing on the ba­sis of 12 un­suc­cess­ful months at Chelsea three years pre­vi­ously.

How­ever, hav­ing won the Premier League Golden Boot by set­ting a new record of 32 goals in a sea­son, Salah si­lenced his doubters and hopes to sign off with vic­tory in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal against Real Madrid in Kiev on Satur­day week.

“It was al­ways on my mind to per­form the best I can,” he said.

“I had two great sea­sons in Rome but it was al­ways on my mind to come back to the Premier League to show the peo­ple who said I didn’t suc­ceed here the first time and prove that I can be a suc­cess in the Premier League.”

Man­ager Jur­gen Klopp’s in­flu­ence — and his tac­tics — helped Salah hit the ground run­ning and the 25-year-old recog­nises the in­put the Ger­man has had.

“You know, be­fore ev­ery­thing we are friends. I like him a lot,” added the Egyp­tian, who is look­ing to add to his in­cred­i­ble 44 goals this sea­son against Real Madrid.

“He has helped me a lot to do what I’m do­ing on the field and off it.

“I have to thank him for ev­ery­thing he has done this year. I re­ally re­spect him a lot and I’m sure we are go­ing to do some­thing spe­cial for the club this year to end it.”

De­fender Vir­gil van Dijk has urged the team to be brave against the Cham­pi­ons League hold­ers.

“We need to be go­ing to Kiev with a lot of con­fi­dence,” he ex­plained.

“We know they have so much qual­ity. But we don’t need to for­get­thatwe­have­so­muchqual­ity as well.

“We’re not there for no rea­son. We de­serve to be there, so we need to show that, be brave and do our thing.”

Mid­fielder Emre Can’s chances of be­ing fit for the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal look re­mote as the back in­jury which has kept him out since March has cost him a place in Ger­many’s World Cup squad.

The 24-year-old could have played his last match for the club as his con­tract ex­pires next month and spec­u­la­tion has con­tin­u­ally linked him with a move away.

Mean­while, Trent Alexan­der-Arnold is rel­ish­ing the chance to cap his break­through sea­son by go­ing up against Cris­tiano Ron­aldo in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.

While for­mer Manch­ester United ace Ron­aldo has been at the sum­mit of the game for over a decade and is aim­ing to be­come a five-time Eu­ro­pean cham­pion in Kiev, Alexan­der-Arnold’s first full sea­son around the Liver­pool first team is just ap­proach­ing a thrilling con­clu­sion.

The 19-year-old ad­mits it will be a pleasure to share the field with a star he once watched on­line as a child but has no fear.

“With Ron­aldo be­ing one of the greats, prob­a­bly one of the best play­ers ever, it’s go­ing to be an hon­our to hope­fully play against him,” he said.

“You know a lot about him and the likes of (Lionel) Messi be­cause you watch them on YouTube when you’re grow­ing up, you al­ways watch those type of play­ers.

“I want to chal­lenge my­self and test my­self against the best play­ers in the world and there’s not many peo­ple bet­ter than the likes of Ron­aldo.

“It will be a huge test for ev­ery­one and hope­fully we come out on top.” Big chance: Mo Salah was hun­gry to re­turn to the Premier League

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