Roberto Firmino was at all times shifting. It was the key of his success. He would dart and scurry, hassling opponents and organising teammates, stamping his hyperactive strategy on each recreation, personifying the Liverpool workforce whose relish for working put them on prime of the world.
He is shifting once more now; simply in a method that, as a substitute of spurring everybody else on, has rendered them unhappy. He is shifting on. “It is time, unfortunately,” mentioned the Brazilian on the eve of his ultimate look at Anfield. “The cycle here is ended and I understand it is time to go. I am very proud for everything that I have done here with the team, what we achieved together and the beautiful history we made together. It was absolutely incredible. We are leaving a great legacy.”
An period is ending and, in some ways, it has been the Roberto Firmino period. He was the participant who scored the purpose that received Liverpool the Club World Cup in 2020. He had been a goalless misfit in a workforce that have been tenth within the Premier League when Jurgen Klopp was appointed. He was the false 9 who made their idiosyncratic ways work. He was the least prolific of an iconic entrance three, however essentially the most vital. He was the chief of the press and the selfless sidekick to Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Firmino doesn’t balk on the description because the participant who symbolised a facet who went on to win every thing. “It is a privilege,” he mentioned. “That makes me happy. It is an honour.” He leaves Liverpool a legend. “I’m okay with that,” he mentioned, with the trademark smile.
All of which represented a shift in his personal fortunes. His Liverpool profession was remodeled by a change within the dugout. Go again to the summer time of 2015 and Christian Benteke was the placing signing the supervisor needed. Firmino was shunted from flank to flank to bench. “In the first week I was here, even I didn’t know where I would be playing,” he recalled. “I can play everywhere. But me and Brendan Rodgers didn’t understand each other about my position on the pitch. When the current manager arrived, we created a position, the false nine. I say we created it together but he’d say it was me. After that, I just enjoyed the position. Before, the whole time in my career I was a No. 10. And then I came here and became a No. 9, a striker.” Klopp constructed round Firmino and eulogised him; in 2021, the German predicted individuals would write books about how the Brazilian performed the false 9 position.
Instead, there have been tributes this week. At Leicester on Monday, Liverpool followers sang Firmino’s tune for 11 minutes. He was not even within the squad. “I was very surprised but I was very emotional as well,” he mentioned. It was not the one rendition. Firmino has his personal. “Two days ago, I sang it in the car with my family,” he mentioned. “My children asked if I could put the song on so we could sing together.”
His future entails studying to play it on the piano. He has lengthy had an array of crowd-pleasing methods. There was the no-look purpose, one thing he began doing at Hoffenheim. And but, whereas there have been 109 Liverpool objectives, whereas his favorite was a 2018 injury-time decider towards Paris Saint-Germain, whereas the sport he treasures most of his 360 for Liverpool was when he scored a hat-trick towards Arsenal, he can choose to be the supplier.
“Sometimes I enjoy more the assists than actually scoring a goal myself,” he mentioned. It was a method the inverted striker reinvented the position. He performed ready typically granted to essentially the most prolific participant within the workforce. He has been outscored by Mane and Salah who joined after him and, within the Senegalese’s case, left earlier than him. “To play alongside these two guys, top players, it was an honour and a pleasure for me,” Firmino mentioned. Given every thing he did for them, it was exceptional he scored 27 occasions in his beautiful 2017-18 season.
He was by no means in need of methods to take pleasure in his objectives. “I create every celebration from one day to the next,” he mentioned. It was a part of a joie de vivre, and a love of enjoying soccer, that felt infectious. “I was always like this,” Firmino mentioned. “I am happy all the time. I smile all the time. Even if I am sad or mad, inside I am happy. It is from my heart.”
There will probably be one event when he doesn’t smile: his Anfield farewell towards Aston Villa. “I try to focus on the game because it is an important game for us and after the game I will cry, 100 percent,” he mentioned. The tears is not going to be confined to Firmino as Liverpool mourn the lack of their biggest false 9.