ANDY ROBERTSON is now just 180 minutes away from a Champions League Final.
He was just eight years old when the competition first left a real impression on him.
Zinedine Zidane’s wonder goal in the 2002 Final at Hampden – when Real Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen just a few miles up the road from the Robertson family home – is indelibly etched in the 24-year-old’s memory.
Now the full-back is part of the Liverpool team that is threatening to write a glorious new chapter in the competition by reaching the Final in Kiev on May 26.
They disposed of Premier League Champions-elect Manchester City in the quarter-finals, beating them home and away for an astonishing 5-1 aggregate success, and face Roma in the semi-finals later this month.
It’s the latest chapter in Robertson’s meteoric rise to the top, which started out in the amateur ranks before leading to last summer’s £8m move to Anfield via Dundee United and Hull City.
“That Final at Hampden was probably the first one I remember,” said Robertson.
“Zidane scored an unbelievable goal, I remember that.
“When you’re young, you watch these incredible tournaments and you want to play in them.
“Luckily, all of us in the dressing-room now have that chance to play in the semi-finals of the Champions League. You dream of that as a kid.
“We have the confidence to beat anyone.
“Manchester City are one of the best teams in Europe at the moment, and they are going to win the English title comfortably. But we were deserving winners over the two legs.
“There are maybe lessons to be learned from the second half at Anfield, and the first half at the Etihad.
“But to beat City 5-1 on aggregate is a great achievement.
“Now we’re in the last four, and everyone will be fighting for that chance to get to the Final.
“Hopefully we can do it.”
For the former Queen’s Park player, this is quite some thrill ride.
After joining Liverpool, he had to bide his time initially, all the while vying with Celtic’s Kieran Tierney for the left-back spot in the Scotland team.
The good form of Spaniard Alberto Moreno meant he didn’t play a single minute of Champions League football before Christmas.
But then when Moreno picked up an ankle injury, Robertson seized his chance and has become the go-to man at left-back for Jurgen Klopp, as well as a real fans’ favourite on The Kop.
Robertson delivered two fine performances in the wins over City and can now dream of following true legends of the club like Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Steve Nicol as a Scot representing Liverpool on the biggest stage in club football.
“Liverpool are such a massive club, with such a quality squad, that I knew it was always going to be tough when I came here,” he admits.
“I had to find my feet, and Alberto was playing really well. I just had to wait my chance, then unfortunately he got injured.
“Once I got it, I believed I could prove to everyone I could play at this level, and luckily I’ve managed to do that.
“I’ve not really looked back, but I need to push on. I don’t think I’m at my peak.
“I need to keep working hard as I have a few weaknesses I need to sort out.
“If I can do that, hopefully I can really give my best to the Liverpool fans and my team-mates.
“The fans have taken to me, I must say, and it’s a great feeling.
“But they are brilliant and they take to every one of our players and cheer them on.
“It’s great to celebrate with them at the end of the game because they follow us everywhere.
“Hopefully we can give them a couple more successful nights that will get us to the Champions League Final.”
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