After 360 appearances, 109 goals and countless karate kick celebrations, it is time to bid farewell to Liverpool legend Roberto Firmino. His character is endearing, his style of play selfless and the combination of the two makes him simply priceless. For eight seasons he has lit up Anfield with his wide smile, ever-changing hair, enthusiastic celebrations and his ability to keep this Liverpool side ticking.
It all began with a grainy iPhone photo of Firmino standing proudly in his Brazilian shirt, as then chief executive Ian Ayre jetted across the world to get the deal over the line. At first, though, he donned the No. 11 and looked uncertain under the tutelage of Brendan Rodgers, who could not work the Brazilian into his team. Then came Jurgen Klopp and, as they say, the rest is history. Firmino played 41 times for Klopp in their respective debut seasons and quickly became the key cog in the machine. When the Brazilian thrived, the Reds did too. The making of Firmino, and in turn this era of Liverpool, was the genius move to mould him into a false No. 9.
Firmino was more than just the connector between the midfield and the attack, he inhibited the qualities of both a defensive and offensive player. Never one to shy away from tracking back to win the ball, start the press or play a selfless role in restricting the movement and access to the opposition’s key midfielder. A dual threat. His movement created space for others, his selfless runs drew opposition defenders away and alongside Saio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Firmino was part of one of the most fearsome attacking units across Europe.
Klopp said in 2021 that Firmino was very influential in all the things they did and set the benchmark for others to follow, quickly becoming a role model and an example to follow. From lighting up the Etihad in the first true sign of what was to come in 2015 to the winner against Paris Saint-Germain, that outrageous flicked assist for Salah against Newcastle in 2019, and his love for scoring against Arsenal (11 in 18 appearances). Then, there were the goals that led Liverpool to the Club World Cup – ultimately helping to make the Reds ‘the champions of everything’.
Firmino leaves with an indelible legacy and a song that will reverberate around Anfield for years to come: ‘There’s something that the Kop want you to know. The best in the world his name is Bobby Firmino’. A Premier League, European Cup, Club World Cup, Super Cup, FA Cup and League Cup champion, Roberto Firmino is an undisputed legend of this club and will always be welcomed back as such.