'I am fully aware' - Jurgen Klopp makes FA Cup admission ahead of Liverpool final
Jurgen Klopp has admitted he 'absolutely loves' the FA Cup as he gets ready to guide his Liverpool side into their first final since 2012 when they face Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday.
The German boss will complete the set of trophies to win if Jordan Henderson was to lift the FA Cup for Liverpool on Saturday evening. Liverpool have not won the competition since 2006.
Liverpool beat Premier League leaders Manchester City in the semi-final 3-2 in the middle of April to book their place in the final against Chelsea - in what is a repeat of the Carabao Cup final that the Reds won on penalties at the end of February.
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Klopp said in his programme notes for Saturday's final: "I was blessed to have great experiences back in Germany with our own version. But I am fully aware of the tradition, sentiment and regard English football holds for the Emirates FA Cup. And to be honest, it does have a special place in the hearts of supporters even beyond these shores.
"Up until this season, Liverpool’s record in the tournament since my arrival has not been a reason for big parties I would admit. There have been mitigating circumstances for that, given the focus we have required to re-establish our club during that period.
"But to avoid any doubt, I absolutely love this competition. I recognise its importance in our club’s own history and how much it means to our supporters. And at the beginning of the season, I’m desperate for us to give all we have to try and be in the Final come May, with a chance of winning it."
The Liverpool boss praised Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel ahead of the final - which will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season: "My respect for Thomas was already as high as you could imagine. Then add in what he has had to contend with off the pitch in recent weeks and months and this respect makes even more sense.
"What a magnificent leader he is for his club. No surprise for those of us who competed against him in Germany. But I think his status as one of the very best coaches and managers in the world is rightly recognised throughout the game.
"What’s cool for us is that I’m certain they will feel the same about us. I can’t imagine any team looking forward to facing this Liverpool side at the moment. That’s what we strive for. To be the team no one wants to come up against.
"Liverpool supporters make occasions like this their own. I love it so much. Because the one thing none of us can guarantee on a day like today is the result. We all know in a game like this each outcome is possible."