Manuel Jabois: Happy people | Soccer | Sports

At Anfield, in front of the stadium, a statue commemorates Bill Shankly with his arms raised, a rose on his shoulder and an eternal phrase that summarizes what Liverpool owes him: ““I have made people happy” (He made people happy).” It is quite an experience to visit Anfield hours before a big match, Liverpool-Manchester City, in the season in which the two fight, once again, tooth and nail for a Premiership that Liverpool has only won once since its creation in 1992 (yes leagues before, especially in the Shankly years that coincided with the presentation to the entire planet of a magnetic team and the considered best band of all time, The Beatles: Liverpool honors its best ambassadors at every corner).

The admirable thing about the communion between fans and club is based on the symbols and solemn respect, full of small and large gestures of the club towards its past, the legends that made it great and the fans who died (96 people, teenagers and children among them), at Hillsborough during a match against Nottingham Forest in 1989; The excess capacity allowed by the police caused an avalanche that crushed dozens of people. It was the worst tragedy in history on a football field. And it generated in the city a feeling for the club that remains intact, that is above titles and disappointments, that in some way runs through the history of the club forever tied to its fans by the lives that that day remained forever in Anfield. One of the corners of the stadium remembers the deceased with their names and ages, a flame that never goes out, fresh flowers and photographs of many of them. In the city’s bars a flammable warning is also remembered: the total eclipse of the sun. That is, the boycott of The Sun, the newspaper that after the tragedy lied about it (it blamed the fans, saying that some pissed on the corpses and others stole from them). It was of no use that The Sun apologized years later; The newspaper does not exist in Liverpool, almost no one wants to sell it (and if points of sale are detected, woe betide them) and the boycott reaches Liverpool and Everton, the other club in the city: their coaches and players do not make statements to The Sun.

Shankly is the great figure who built modern Liverpool. Raised in a small mining community in Scotland with his nine brothers, he played football professionally without much noise and it was as a manager when he began to stand out. His arrival at Liverpool (which was in the Second Division) marked the revolution that the club was waiting for. He had the now legendary slogan “This is Anfield” engraved in the stadium to warn rivals that they were not entering just any stadium. He changed the team’s uniform and decided to make it completely red, from top to bottom, to be more scary. And, above all, he brought the values ​​of the mine, solidarity, effort, loyalty to each other, to the field. The result was 15 unforgettable years (“he made people happy”) that laid the foundations for Liverpool, European champion: with Shankly, those from Merseyside won three leagues, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup. His memory, that of Paisley, Dalglish, that of Steven Gerrard and Rafa Benítez (heroes of the mythological penultimate Champions League won after being down 3-0 at half-time with a dream Milan) soaks everything in Liverpool, the club of mystique ( The Kop, perhaps the most legendary stand in European football), co-leader with Arsenal after drawing yesterday with Guardiola’s City.

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