Every Club Needs An Alisson Becker
Before yesterday, for most Liverpool fans, Alisson Becker already earned a cult hero status. His heroic yesterday, especially if it culminates in Liverpool qualifying for next season’s Champions League, cements his place as a Liverpool hero.
Songs will be written about him, stories will be told of him, and he will deserve every line of it.
When Liverpool suffered a concussed Lorius Karius induced heartbreak in the Champions League final of 2019, that was the final writing on the wall.
A need to upgrade on Simon Mignolet and Lorius Karius had been on everyone’s mind before that. Gifting Real Madrid two goals on the biggest stage in club football, concussion or not, the hard choice had to be made.
Donnarama, Jan Oblak, Jack Butland, Nick Pope, and others, were names bandied around.
When eventually Alisson Becker was announced, like every other FSG sanctioned decision, it split the fan base.
Why would Liverpool sign a goalkeeper who conceded four goals in a game against Liverpool? If he were that good, why was his club willing to part with him? Why didn’t FSG just pay up whatever A.C Milan or Atletico Madrid were demanding for their respective goalkeepers?
Desperate times calls for desperate measures, and Liverpool were the pictorial definition of desperation.
It was clear, to get Liverpool to the next level, a new goalkeeper was needed. What wasn’t clear was if Alisson Becker was that goalkeeper.
He had a lot to prove, and he got right to it immediately after the new season started.
I remember Alisson making his first uncomfortable pass and presenting a chance to an opposing striker. Liverpool supporters immediately got worried while fans of other clubs drew comparisons with Mignolet and Karius.
As some put it, it was a precarious or “prekarius” situation.
Thankfully, Liverpool would go on to win the match. This must be why Jurgen Klopp saw the funny side to the situation.
He tried to downplay the incident, summing it to be the customary mistake Liverpool goalkeepers must make.
Alisson Becker would go on to grow in quality and confidence. Rewarding the confidence of supporters and making naysayers eat their words.
The greatest example of this was when he pulled a massive save to deny Arkadiusz Milik an equalizer for Napoli in the last game of the group stage.
That save ensured Liverpool qualified for the knockout round, of which they would go on to emerge as champions.
This save made Alisson Becker a fan favorite. There was no more doubting his quality. His occasional slips can be easily forgiven now.
By January of the next season, Liverpool found themselves once again, on top of the Premier League table. Yet, Red’s faithful across the world were too scared to dream.
The impossible was becoming a reality before our eyes, but thirty years of heartbreak is powerful enough to turn any believer into a skeptic.
The moment that upturned all of that, once again, came down to the beautiful Alisson Becker.
Perennial rivals, Manchester United were throwing the kitchen sink at Liverpool in an attempt to extract at least, a draw.
The Red Devil’s got a corner kick two minutes into added time. One attempt at goal later, Alisson Becker had the ball in his hands.
In an inspired moment, he sent the ball long to Mohammed Salah. Holding off Daniel James, Salah would race through and put the ball past David De Gea for what would be one of Liverpool’s most important goals of the season.
It was pandemonium everywhere as the stadium erupted in celebration. We all watched as time seemed to slow down just enough for Alisson to outrun every player on the pitch and get to Mo Salah first and jubilate with him.
No more convincing was needed. Supporters and rivals alike knew the truth. This time around, the fans could dare to believe. Nothing could jinx this.
For the first time in over thirty years, “we’re gonna win the league, and now you’re gonna believe us” was sang in Anfield.
It was sung without second-guessing. It was sung with conviction. Thirty years of heartbreak was about to be healed.
It couldn’t have happened at a better place than Anfield. And there is no better man to reignite that belief than Alisson Becker.
Liverpool would go on to win the league after a Covid-19 forced break.
They would start the next season just as strong until the weirdest injury crisis ever witnessed by a team would plague the team’s defence.
Top of the league by Christmas, by the end of February, it was clear that only a miracle would see Liverpool qualify for the next season’s Champions League.
In the midst of these, Alisson Becker lost his dad, Jose Agostinho Becker. Sadly, he was unable to get back to Brazil to join his family.
After a mixture of mostly positive, and occasional negative results, it all came down to the last five games of the season.
The first of the five was supposed to be against perennial foes, Manchester United, but thanks to protests against the proposed Super League, and then a call for the exit of the Glazers Family, the match was postponed.
With Manchester City winning the league, Manchester United had nothing to play for as second place was all but guaranteed.
For fans of Manchester United, preventing Liverpool from qualifying for the Champions League would be more than enough compensation for not winning the league.
Some might even celebrate that better than winning the league.
Alas, Liverpool would go on to defeat Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in seven years.
Up next was West Brom. Managed by Sam Allardyce, a manager Jurgen Klopp hadn’t defeated in all of his five previous attempts.
As was characteristic for Liverpool this season, every bad record had to be broken.
Hal Robson-Kanu with his first Premier League start since 2017, scored his first Premier League goal since 2017/2018.
Barely three days after watching their season gasp back to life, Liverpool fans were watching it wither away. Again.
An equalizer ten by Mo Salah eighteen minutes later gave us all a belief that it could be revived.
Sixty minutes later, that hope and belief were sitting at the top of a trash bin. We were into the fourth minute of four minutes extra time, and Liverpool was no any closer to getting a winner than they had been sixty minutes before.
Like any Sam Allardyce side, this West Brom, was sitting deep and not giving room for any goal.
Although relegated, West Brom were hell bent on being a party pooper. They wanted to pop everyone else’s balloon and suck whatever fun or dream you have left.
A few seconds before the referee could blow his final whistle, Liverpool got a corner. This was supposed to be the final kick of the game.
For a team that hadn’t had a sniff at goal from over ten corner kicks already, there was no reason to get our hopes up.
When the cameras cut to Alisson Becker arriving at the opponent’s eighteen yards box, the consensus was “what do goalkeepers bring to attacking corners?”
Some even feared that in a season where everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for Liverpool, it might all be topped off with a West Brom player clearing the ball from his goal and scoring against Liverpool.
He that is down already needs fear no fall. That was the case of Liverpool. And Alisson seems to have no idea what fear is.
Thankfully, unlike on previous occasions, none of the coaching staff saw the wisdom in dissuading his kamikaze mission.
One exquisite cross from Trent Alexander Arnold later, met with a thumping header from Alisson Becker, the scream from the less than hundred contingent of Liverpool at the Hawthorns stadium must have reverberated through the West Midlands to Merseyside.
The impossible was done. Hope had been revived.
Once again, there is no better man for all this than Alisson Becker.
With this goal, he became the first goalkeeper to score a league goal for Liverpool in the 129 years history of the club. He is the first goalkeeper to score a header in the Premier League.
When on Sunday evening, Liverpool confirms and celebrates qualifying for next season’s Champions League, this moment will be looked back on as a key one.
Decades and possibly centuries from now, this header will continue to be remembered by Liverpool fans across the globe.
This one act has motivated a new generation of goalkeepers who would want to be the next Alisson Becker. And why not?
Turns out you can get that legendary status as a goalkeeper by not only stopping goals and even penalty kicks. You can provide assists and score yours too. Not just free-kicks and penalties. Last-minute headers too.