It was almost the perfect fairytale sendoff.
With Liverpool trailing 1-0 against Aston Villa, facing a defeat that would have ended all mathematical hope of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League next season, Roberto Firmino came off the bench and fired in an 89th minute equalizer in his last ever match at Anfield.
Firmino has so often created goals for Mo Salah over the years, but this time it was the Egyptian’s turn to become provider – his cross finding Firmino in the center of the box with the Brazilian prodding it into the net.
But even a draw couldn’t dampen the emotion of the occasion as Firmino was reduced to tears by the crowd’s tribute to him.
Liverpool fans waved jerseys and cries of “Si Senor” reverberated around Anfield while Firmino’s teammates formed a guard of honor for him and other departing players, including James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win, it wasn’t the result that you want,” Firmino said afterwards, according to Liverpool’s official website.
“But the last game at home with the fans, my family here, everyone, friends, I was very emotional and happy for this, to score my last goal at home. With this shirt, this big club, I’m very happy.”
Since he was signed by former manager Brendan Rodgers in 2015, the popular Brazilian became a lynchpin of the team that Jurgen Klopp built, winning the title and the Champions League during his time at the club – and scoring on Saturday marked his 110th goal for Liverpool.
“In the beginning when I arrived it was hard to adapt to the climate, the football, everything. As for every player, it’s the same,” Firmino said, according to the club’s website.
“But thank you God, we achieved everything here, we won everything together. Without my teammates, my family, the manager, you cannot do this. I’m very proud of the history, for everything we achieved together.”
And Liverpool fans ensured that there will be a piece of Firmino in the city a little while longer, unveiling a mural painted on a wall near the stadium to honor his achievements at the club.