Ahead of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final, SoundersFC.com asked team broadcaster Keith Costigan to share his story on his favorite club, Liverpool. A Dublin, Ireland, native, Costigan will be in Madrid to attend the match against fellow English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
My two oldest memories are of football.
The first is of me kicking an old deflated ball around a park with my mam and dad watching, and the second is being mesmerized by Liverpool’s yellow uniform in a televised game away at Aston Villa. It was my first exposure to a club that would not just shape how I spent Saturday afternoons for the rest of my life, but also shape the career decisions I would make as I grew older.
During my first look at the mighty Reds, it was the yellow kit that caught my eye. When you’re five, it can be as simple as that, right?
I remember watching Liverpool win the European Cup as a seven-year-old, enchanted by goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar doing the wobbly legs to put off opposing players. I couldn’t get enough of it and even convinced my dad, a Leeds fan, to take me to Liverpool’s home ground of Anfield for my first game in person. I was 10, and a 6-2 Liverpool win over Norwich sealed it. I was going to spend my life supporting this team and working in this sport one way or the other.
Costigan at Anfield
I learned about the culture of the club, how the fans got behind the team and created a community at every match. I witnessed how fans could change the outcome of a game with their incredible support. Even the tough days of losing to the likes of Leicester with Kasey Keller pulling out save after save didn’t dampen my love for the club (amazing how small the soccer world is).
The fans were the heartbeat of the club, and that hasn’t changed. That why I think you, as a Sounders fan, will understand what I am talking about. You have created that dynamic in Seattle. The fans make the club. When people talk about the Sounders, it’s always about the fans first. Rightly so. I also think you understand that when life gets tough, you always have your footballing family to call on and lift you.
In 2005, I learned it was fate that I supported Liverpool. I was forced back to Ireland after spending eight years building a life and a career in the United States. I had to wait six months to find out if my visa application to return passed. It was the most stressful time of my life. I stayed up all night worrying and spent all day in bed to avoid the conversations with my family about what I would do with my life if I couldn’t go back to America.
The one thing that got me up and spending time with my dad was Liverpool Champions League matches. LFC was a longshot to go deep in the competition, but we were hopeful for a miracle. Round after round, Liverpool pulled off upsets to go to the final in Istanbul…only to go 3-0 down to AC Milan at halftime. My dad isn’t the most optimistic person, but he kept saying to me, “It’s not over, son, they can still get back into it.”
Liverpool stormed back to defy all odds and win the European Cup. Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso scored in a six-minute span to level the score, with Liverpool winning 3-2 on penalty kicks. Oh, and the starting left back that match: Djimi Traore (told you the soccer world was small).
Sounders Assistant Coach Djimi Traore (back row, second from left) with the 2005 Liverpool Champions League-winning Starting XI
I cried, much like some of you did when the Sounders overcame a horrific first half of 2016 to lift MLS Cup. That night I remember thinking that in my moment of need, Liverpool was there for me. Whatever happened with my visa, I would fight, just like Liverpool had to win the cup.
Fast forward to this season. I had the pleasure of attending the second leg of the Liverpool-Barcelona Champions League semifinal at Anfield. I went with a good friend, and, if I am being honest, neither of us thought the comeback would happen. A win on the night, maybe, but not turning around a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona. Hadn’t I learned anything about the might of this club?
What a night. It happened.
Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum each recorded a brace as Liverpool won 4-0 on the evening and 4-3 on aggregate. As I celebrated, I received a text from my Sounders producer.
“I will plan on you being in Madrid on June 1,” he said.
He knew what it meant for me to be there and cheer on a club that has always been a part of my life.
He understood. And you do, too, because you live it every single day.
Go Sounders. Up the Reds.