Quiet man Milner leads the way as Liverpool return home to party

Quiet man Milner leads the way as Liverpool return home to party

James Milner was as relentless in his celebrations as he is chasing down opposition midfielders as Liverpool’s Champions League winners returned to the city.

The famous Ribena drinker was cheerleader-in-chief as the Champions League winners returned home to a victory parade after their 2-0 win over Tottenham.

An estimated 500,000-plus people crammed the eight-mile stretch of the parade route – which took almost four hours to cover – waving flags, holding inflatable European Cups and letting off smoke canisters. Lots and lots of smoke canisters.

James Milner led the celebrations
James Milner led the celebrations (Barrington Coombs/PA)

At the forefont of it all was 33-year-old Milner, stood front right and prominent throughout, usually accompanied by captain Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, local-born Trent Alexander-Arnold and ‘old Big Ears’ itself as Jurgen Klopp’s side brought home a sixth European Cup to Merseyside.

Whenever there was a chant to be led, a bus side to be smacked or a scarf to be waved Milner was there, belying his ‘boring’ image.

— Boring James Milner (@BoringMilner) June 2, 2019

Not to be outdone Andy Robertson and Alexander-Arnold tried to steal the limelight when one supporter lobbed an unopened smoke bomb onto the top tier of the open top bus and the pair of full-backs took turns in waving it after it was ignited.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, one of the star performers in Saturday’s final win over Tottenham, could well have been hungover judging by the perm-shades attached to his face but he found his second wind late on and was soon swigging from a bottle again.

Behind them Klopp sat the back of the bus, occasionally giving the impression of a beleaguered teacher on a school outing with a bunch of boisterous children but he was far from the party pooper, often jumping out of his seat to give a thumbs-up, a wave or a hearty laugh.

The crowds lapped it up even more than the players. From the moment the bus party turned onto Queen’s Drive, the dual carriageway which serves as a ring road on the east side of the city, it was clear to see the extent to which fans had come out on in their droves on Sunday afternoon.

Every possible vantage point was utilised: from bus shelters to bay windows, trees to traffic lights, multi-story car parks to petrol station forecourt roofs.

More than a few cars will have left with dents in their bonnets and roofs as men, women and children craned every sinew to get a sight of the players or a half-decent shot with their phones.

There was little room to witness the parade
There was little room to witness the parade (Barrington Coombs/PA)

There were the obligatory flags, banners and traditional forms of showing support. There were also more unusual items, such as cardboard cut-outs of Klopp and Mo Salah, one of the latter wearing a real Everton shirt in a definite piece of wishful thinking from one Blue member of the crowd.

Fireworks, other pyrotechnics – and drones – filled the air with acrid smoke making the pedestrian pace of the procession glacial-like.

Even the players, at one stage, appeared to get parade fatigue as the top deck went flat as the route wound its way through some of the quieter sections.

But by the time the bus reached its final destination there was not a space to be had on the half-a-mile stretch of The Strand.

Every Liverpool fan wanted a piece of the parade
Every Liverpool fan wanted a piece of the parade (Barrington Coombs/PA)

There were also some humorous moments: like when Roberto Firmino had to take evasive action to avoid a low bridge and the players taking great delight in spotting an over-sized man in a green mankini hanging one-legged off a ladder atop some scaffolding.

Quite what principal owner John Henry, also on the bus along with chairman Tom Werner, is anyone’s guess.

But what this show of Red power did highlight is that when Liverpool do well the world knows about it.