In a hurricane of emotion and adrenaline at Anfield, the electrifying expectation of Liverpool’s home support spiraling around the stadium, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s mind was still.
“Don’t take your eye off the ball, don’t miss a thing.”
Against all logic, Liverpool had erased their 3-0 deficit against Barcelona in the Champions League. With the aggregate score poised at 3-3 in the semifinal, second leg, the right-back won a corner on 78 minutes. He looked up, placed the ball and shaped to take it before Xherdan Shaqiri requested responsibility for the set-piece. Alexander-Arnold obliged and took slow strides away, before noticing Ernesto Valverde’s men had briefly switched off. He swiveled toward the ball sharply, delivering an inch-perfect low cross that Divock Origi converted to give Liverpool another crack at continental glory.
Alexander-Arnold, who turned 20 in October and is primed to become the youngest starter in consecutive European Cup finals — he was in the XI that lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev last year and is currently preparing to meet Tottenham in Madrid on Saturday — strolls through Liverpool’s Waterfront as he recounts the most iconic moment in his career to date. Manager Jürgen Klopp described the improvisation as “genius” and on the stretch that showcases the city’s majestic stone-clad Three Graces — the Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Bulding and the Port of Liverpool — Alexander-Arnold reveals it was all down to conditioning.
“I always try to be one step ahead of my opponents, because that’s how you get the best out of yourself and the better of them,” he tells ESPN. “I’ve thought about that and worked on it since I started at the Academy, but it’s extremely difficult to show it regularly at an elite level. You’re competing against top sides, who are very well prepared and the chance to catch them off guard is limited.
“In that split second against Barca, I noticed the opportunity and I used it.”While “The Trent” — a move born out of game intelligence and now forever stitched into the fabric of famous Anfield nights — has been transported to parks, streets and playgrounds across the globe, Alexander-Arnold simply files it under “job done.”
“I haven’t thought about it beyond what it meant for the game itself and the club,” he says. “It’s hard to sit back and reflect on individual moments or the big wins you’ve been involved in. For us, it’s just another good performance, a good game — nothing more, nothing less, because it’s a results business. Our thinking is ‘That one is done, it’s gone, we need to focus on the next challenge,’ because there is always another match or objective around the corner.
“Whether it was a historic goal or not, the main thing was for us to show how good of a team we are, what we believe we’re capable of and to set a marker down in Europe to ensure every opponent has great respect for Liverpool.”
In January, when Alexander-Arnold signed a new five-year contract with the club, Klopp described him as “one of the most relentless professionals I have met when it comes to focusing on getting better each and every day” and had a message for supporters. “I have noticed he doesn’t have a song from the fans yet, so maybe that is something they can work on. Wow, does he deserve one!
“As a player for Liverpool, he is the embodiment of the sentiment ‘we’re never gonna stop.'”