THIAGO ALCANTARA wants to earn his medal on the pitch in the final at Wembley this time around.
The heartbroken midfielder broke down and sobbed on the bench after damaging a hamstring in the warm-up before February’s Carabao Cup final triumph over Chelsea.
Thiago was comforted by goalkeeper Alisson after Naby Keita was dramatically drafted into the side at the last minute.
Midfield star Thiago did get a winner’s medal following the shootout success that marked boss Jurgen Klopp’s first domestic cup success in English football.
Yet the Spanish international, who has been dogged with injury since his £20million arrival from Bayern Munich in 2020, is praying that tomorrow’s clash will not mark groundhog day for him.
He reveals he was so deeply overcome not just for himself but also because of all that he, his team mates and the Anfield fans had been through during the Covid lockdown.
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The 31 year old says of his nightmare moment: “It came to my mind that the last season was very hard for myself to try to be here.
“Not having the fans in the stadium due to Covid, not having this fun that this sport gives to you.
“We fought a lot to arrive in that moment, that you can play in a final.
“Then suddenly I had a bad thing, a bad neck problem.
“It caused like a chain of movement that in the end caused me an injury in the hamstring. It was a moment where you are just frustrated.
“You just calm down a bit, you try to be cold enough to face the final. It was as it was and we won and you are happy for the team.
“But for sure it was bittersweet that you don’t play in that game.
“Lifting a trophy is a special moment but it was more for the frustrating situation that everybody had the last few years.
“The reaction that day was because of what we have been through and was a kind of celebration of overcoming that situation.”
Thiago is set to start against Chelsea after Fabinho was yesterday ruled out with a muscle tear.
This time he wants to leave Wembley with a smile on his face having taken part in a competition he reveres.
Thiago explains the whole of Klopp’s squad feel the same way, insisting: “We came from other countries – not just me but other players – and just met this amazing competition, the oldest in the world.
“We are really excited to play – not just the competition itself but a final. We’re ready for it.”
Liverpool haven’t won the FA Cup since a shoot-out triumph at the end of a 3-3 draw with West Ham in 2006.
Thiago stresses: “It doesn’t matter if we didn’t win for a long time.
“It’s just about a trophy that we can win and we add in our backpack this new challenge.
“Wembley is an amazing stadium. It’s special itself but then you know that Wembley is used for special moments.
“There’s different context and we’re ready to go to London.
“It’s a new game with Chelsea and we have to be prepared, nothing else.
“We understand that we are playing against one of the best teams in the world and we know it will be tight, we know it’s always difficult.
“They want to take something that we want to take as well. It’s a continuous fight with this kind of team.
“The best team will win.”
Meanwhile team mate Fabinho is facing heartbreak of his own after also suffering a hamstring injury during this week’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa that kept alive his side’s hopes of completing a history – making Quadruple.
The Brazilian will miss Wembley and Liverpool’s last two Prem games of the season and is now sweating over being available for the Champions League final with Real Madrid on May 28.