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Liverpool banish 30 years of hurt, breathe life into Kopite father-son duo’s spirits

As Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson lifted the Premier League trophy, thousands of Kopites across the world wept tears of joy. Their beloved club had finally banished 30 years of hurt, ending an agonising wait for a maiden league title. While many soon retired for the night exhausted by the intensity and emotions, the party was just getting started for a Kopite father-son duo based in Mumbai.

Derrick Martis (63), a Liverpool supporter since the last 44 years, struggles to find the right words when asked to recollect the celebrations that night.

“Could not speak for the first 15 minutes”

“I could not speak for the first 15-odd minutes, after Henderson lifted the trophy. I just kept staring silently at the screen,” musters Derrick despite his voice being choked with emotion.

“The glorious much-awaited moment which I was waiting for desperately since the last 30 years, had finally arrived. As I slowly came to terms with the glorious development, my body was infused with energy and I ran screaming with joy. I picked up the phone and called up friends, some rivals while enjoying some banter which went on till about 3.30 AM. It was an emotional moment which I will surely cherish forever.”

Son Steiner (34) has himself been a Kopite since 1999 and describes the atmosphere in the house that night as ‘electrifying’.

“The lockdown had resulted in discussion over the season being declared null and void, which made me extremely sad. I had almost started believing Liverpool were not destined to lift the golden urn, and to a certain extent cursed. When Henderson lifted the trophy, it almost felt like the club had overcome the cruel hand of nature with its persistence, leading to tears of joy with my heart pumping faster than ever. All the criticism, abuse and pain which I had suffered over the years flashed before my eyes, as a wave of emotion surged through my body,” he reminiscences.

“The wonderful thought of waking up the next morning as league champions did not allow me to sleep that night. I was scrolling through the chats on fan groups, reliving every single moment of the match. My parents could not hold their tears back, with my wife who is not a football fan joining the proceedings.”


The night-long celebrations however came at a very expensive cost, with the two Kopites forced to undergo years of misery, disappointment and hopelessness. The agonizing wait seemed never-ending, with this turmoil not for the faint of heart.

It was even tougher for Derrick, who had been a part of some of the most glorious years in Liverpool’s history having fallen in love with the club back in 1976.

“Football maniac during my days in Kuwait”

“I was a football maniac during my days in Kuwait, going on to play for a club named Blue Star. However, my first introduction to Liverpool was thanks to a roommate. I slowly started following them closely and fell in love with their winning mentality. Watching them play at night after work was simply a glorious experience,” says the 63-year-old.

“Opponents were afraid of coming to Anfield, as the final scoreline was extremely embarrassing. A random prediction of 4 to 5 goals being scored, would eventually come true. Winning the first division and European cup year by year was no big feat, which indicates the level of dominance,” he gushes in delight.

Legendary players Kevin Keegan, Kenny Danglish, Ian Rush are some of the names Derrick terms as amongst his favourites. However, he feels sad about the limited limelight enjoyed by the likes of Alen Hansen, Ronnie Whelan who were vital contributors in their own right.

“Kevin Keegan’s extraordinary goals still play in my mind. Words fail to describe my admiration for Ian Rush and King Kenny. However, I do believe that underrated footballers like Alan Hansen and Ronnie Whelan slip under the radar, which should not be the case. Being a Kopite those glorious years was way less noisy and intense. It all changed when Alex Ferguson started stamping his authority with Manchester United,” he says with the smile replaced by a look of sadness.

“Ferguson molded United into a strong side, capable of battling it out against the finest. We expected Liverpool to provide a strong response to this threat, but it was simply not meant to be. I returned to India in 1990 and kept a close eye on the performances despite limited coverage, while fulfilling my household responsibilities and tending to the needs of my recently born son.”

“It was heartbreaking to witness the manner in which my beloved club was struggling, having dominated world football at one stage. I tried to take my eye off Liverpool to help ease the pain, but the fan in me never permitted the same. Though I remained optimistic of a change in fortunes despite the club’s lack of success in the Premier League, it was difficult to discuss the poor performances with anyone. Hence, I avoided making even a brief mention of my loyalties and would have maintained the same attitude, if not for a discussion with my son one fine night.”

“Love for Liverpool runs in our blood”

Steiner chips in at this stage, after sensing the emotional turmoil in his father’s mind rendering him unable to say a word.

“I became a Liverpool supporter when just 13, after being enamoured by Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler’s glorious gameplay. All my friends were hardcore Manchester United supporters, but the thought never crossed my mind even for a second.”

“However, I would never have known about my father being a Kopite if not for a conversation the evening before a Liverpool clash. My father was reading a novel, which is when I requested him for permission to watch the match. He was initially surprised and enquired about the reason behind this request. His happiness knew no bounds after I revealed being a Kopite, as he opened up about the history of Liverpool and his journey so far. Some things are just meant to be. Love for the club runs in our blood,” he shares with a wide smile.


As the two Kopites started following matches together following this emotional interaction, Steiner’s initial years were extremely tough as he experienced the pain his father had endured so far.

“My initial years as a Liverpool supporter were full of uncertainty. Poor performances surpassed the good ones, which was followed by fights and ridicule the next day in school. My friends used to call me up at night, in order to taunt me following a bad display. It got so bad that I used to cry at times, just thinking about the banter next morning. Being an optimist was a tough prospect, and it reached an extent where I described Liverpool as a ‘mid-table’ team just to comfort myself. Deep down, I was very sad.”

In these tough times, the heroic 2005 UEFA Champions League triumph against AC Milan following a sublime comeback in the second half provided some much-needed relief.

“Felt like a dream when we lifted the Champions League”

“We were 3-0 down at the end of the first half, which is when I was almost about to retire for the night. However, something urged me to stay awake and remain optimistic. The reason was soon apparent, as Xabi Alonso scored the equalizer to make it 3-3. I don’t know how many times I kissed the TV that night. It felt like a dream when we lifted the Champions League. My dad did not believe me when I shared the news next morning, waiting to confirm the same from my sister. His happiness knew no bounds and was a timely boost for our sagging spirits,” says the 34-year-old with a grin.

“Liverpool had been reduced to a top four side, struggling to stay afloat in Europe before the 2005 miracle. I had seen Liverpool beat opponents for fun, which made the prospect of witnessing a defeat against teams half their stature simply unbearable. I did not watch the Champions League final in order to avoid humiliation, but was overjoyed next morning,” adds the 63-year-old.

“We were the team to beat in Europe”

The Reds emerged as the best in Europe between 2005-07, coming extremely close to a league triumph in 2008-09 which had eluded them all these years.

“We were the team to beat in Europe. Teams feared coming to Anfield. However, it was the league in which we were faltering and that was sad as well as annoying. The instability in league clashes made me want to choke. Fernando Torres’s arrival resulted in a surge for the Premier League, as we finished second to Manchester United in the 2008-09 season, losing by just three points. It was a proud moment but felt like a massive letdown at that stage, considering the gravity of the situation,” says Steiner.


Will 2013/14 emerge as Liverpool’s historic season?

The 34-year-old’s words certainly proved true as Liverpool huffed and puffed the next few seasons, battling mediocrity and lack of consistency. However, it all promised to change come the 2013/14 season of the Premier League.

“We were very optimistic of finally ending the hunt for the Premier League that season, after Danial Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez carried the team on their shoulders with excellent performances through thick and thin. That was the best time to be a Liverpool supporter after ages and a total roller-coaster ride. It was amazing to see the team perform at a completely new level. The heart was saying this is our season, but the mind somehow knew that we would throw it away. We were top at Christmas and optimism was sky high. However, a setback was just round the corner as we soon realised,” says Steiner.

“We were very optimistic of a triumph that year. I remember driving from Mahad to Mumbai, a distance of 180 kms in three hours to enjoy Liverpool defeating Manchester City 3-2. It all came crashing down when we least expected during the clash against Chelsea, as our captain fantastic slipped, resulting in tears. I am still unable to believe what happened that night. The draw against Crystal Palace felt like a dagger against my neck, and it seemed like a huge rock had been gulped rendering me unable to say a word. My son was devastated. There was sadness all around,” adds Derrick.

The final setback in the 2013/14 season had a massive impact on both the Kopites, who lost a certain degree of faith in Liverpool’s ability to ever lift the league title. It seemed like a step too far.

Turning doubters to believers

As Jurgen Klopp arrived and impressed fans with his interviews and attacking football, the duo continued to remain unmoved having battled a lot of disappointment till that stage. However, Klopp’s magic soon won them over, as Liverpool trumped some of the biggest teams in club football with dominant gameplay all around.

“I knew that the former Borussia Dortmund manager was a big name, and followed every match closely at each stage. However, the thought of winning the league never again crossed my mind. I did not give Klopp a chance of winning the Premier League, but it all changed after the 4-3 comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League. The guy was special,” says the 34-year-old.

“I never thought that LFC could win the league title under Klopp, though his style of football was effective. However, the belief returned after we defeated Manchester City 4-1 in a league clash. The steady transformation in the team’s mentality was simply unbelievable. The defeat in the Champions League final further did not dim hopes of the golden urn being far away,” adds the 63-year-old.

As the two doubters turned believers, Liverpool’s confidence and dominance was enhanced to the next level culminating in an eventual sublime victory against Chelsea, the same team which had cost them the league title in the 2013/14 season. It was sweet revenge of sorts.

Love for Liverpool knows no bounds

The duo’s love for Liverpool knows no bounds, with the following incident a humorous reminder of the same.

“We had once travelled to a small town in 2008, where there was no telecast of a Liverpool clash against Manchester City. We were searching for a hotel where one could watch the game, but the same was not an option. A hotel finally agreed, but requested some time for the arrival of a cable guy capable of repairing the faulty system, necessary for watching the game. We kept nagging the operator at the hotel to hurry up, threatening to leave if the same was not handled with utmost urgency. The telecast started 15 minutes after the match started, and the clash proved to be a memorable one as Liverpool completed a 3-2 comeback after being 2-0 down,” laughs Derrick.

The father-son duo share an excellent relationship with their love for football and Liverpool specifically bringing them even closer. The only thing which remains on the bucket list is a trip to Anfield, which is planned in the coming years as well.

“We always talk about football, being fanatics of the sport and play together at times. There is constant discussion over the latest news reports, like the recent Thiago Alacantra saga. I am so relaxed now that we have won the league. However, my father keeps insisting on the need to freshen things up and go again. Only 10 percent discussion pertains to work. We are yet to visit Anfield so far, which is something being looked forward to with great excitement. Hopefully, the wait will be short-lived,” concludes Steiner with a quick smile.

Written By: Marcelino Da Silva


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