If you haven’t worked out by now, I am sorry but my pet theme, call it my ‘life message’ if you like, is always this:
Never, Ever Give Up!
Overcoming enormous obstacles, outrageous odds, seemingly insurmountable mountains is the stuff that makes us uniquely human.
One thing you will definitely have worked out by now is that I simply love stories in sport where a team or an individual overcomes all expectations to triumph in their chosen field.
Normally, I would be happy to devote this illustration to the extraordinary exploits of Liverpool football club alone, who overcame a 3-0 deficit on Tuesday night to beat the red-hot favourites, Barcelona and win 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-final of the Uefa Champions’ League.
But that would be somewhat unfair.
The following night, another team, who I have always enjoyed watching – Tottenham Hotspur – performed their own amazing comeback to earn their place in the final.
The headlines read after the ‘Miracle on Merseyside’, this is ‘Amazement in Amsterdam’ as Spurs also reversed a 3-0 deficit and won on the away goals rule that count for double in the event of a draw.
For only the third time ever, a major European football competition will be contested in the final by two English teams.
In some ways, I don’t know where to start for the obvious lessons for us mere mortals but here’s what I love the most and I humbly offer it to you…
After the game was over, and everyone who had witnessed the enormity of what Liverpool had achieved, my real hero, Jurgen Klopp said this, “I said to the boys before the game, ‘I don’t think it’s possible but because it’s you, we have a chance.'”
They were without two of their first choice three strikers. Their captain, Jordan Henderson was hobbling on an injured leg for half the match, and one of their very best players, Andy Robertson, had to withdraw at halftime, after effectively being kicked out of the game by that well-known, gifted street-fighter (sorry, ‘cheat’) Luis Suarez.
But before I get carried away with endless words of adoration for my team, let us return to those magical, prophetic words of Klopp’s.
“I don’t think it’s possible but because it’s you, we have a chance.'”
That my friend, is all you need to remember from this blog, that night of football (regardless of who you support or level of love for football).
Because it is you, we have a chance.
Take the ‘we’ out if you prefer and meditate on this…
Because it is You, You have a chance.
Whatever your circumstance. Whatever you are facing right now.
You may feel a bit battered and bruised from time to time. So close to defeat that you’ve almost forgotten there could be any other outcome.
I remember someone using Rocky 3 as a great illustration and it goes like this:
Rocky and his opponent are both on the floor inside the ring – utterly depleted of energy – having given all they had and so much more. Rocky’s coach is screaming at him, “Get up! Get up!”
Sometimes, even when we feel like we have nothing left to give, all we have to do is get up and stand.
And after that, stand. You don’t even have to walk after such a battle.
Because the enemy, the opponent of your life – however that manifests itself – is down and out.
Or at the very least, complacent. Even asleep.
Just like some of those Barcelona players were near the end of match on Tuesday night.
A fourteen year old ball boy – who had been encouraged before the match to feed the ball as fast as possible to the players – so that every single second would count. He did just that when Liverpool won a corner.
Then another local, young man of just twenty – Trent Alexander-Arnold – came up with a ruse that fooled his far more experienced opposition and stunned the world with his ingenuity and cheekiness. It led to a winning goal – the likes of which no one has ever seen before.
A little bit like when David used his slingshot to defeat the seemingly undefeatable Goliath and became the icon for all underdog victories ever since.
Now it’s your turn…