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Liverpool’s unlikely hero Adrian goes from training alone to Klopp’s No1 focus

THE time in Istanbul was 2.30am.

It had been more than two hours since Liverpool won the Uefa Super Cup — but the players and management were still on the bus waiting for goalkeeper Adrian.

The hero of the night, after saving the crucial shootout penalty from Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, had finally completed a drugs test and was doing a TV interview.

His manager Jurgen Klopp jumped off the bus, stuck his head around the corner, whistled and said: “Hey, come on. We play on Saturday!”

Being summoned by the Liverpool boss was the last thing the out-of-contract Spaniard would have expected a few weeks ago after a frustrating summer.

In a remarkable change of fortunes, Adrian had only signed ten days earlier as back-up for Alisson — after No 2 Simon Mignolet moved to Club Brugge.

Now 32-year-old Adrian, who spent the previous six years at West Ham making 150 appearances, is currently Liverpool’s main goalkeeper.

The Reds’ No 1 Alisson suffered a calf injury during the 4-1 Premier League win against Norwich and could be out for around a month.

'BEST DECISION'

Adrian will again be in goal against Southampton at St Mary’s tomorrow.

But he only arrived on Merseyside the day after Liverpool lost on penalties to Prem champs Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.

And before being cut short by his new chief, Adrian said: “To be fair, I had been in Seville keeping fit — just me and a goalkeeper trainer.

“It was difficult because I was without a team, waiting to sign for a club.

“I received a call from Liverpool and it was the best decision to come here. To be fair, it was my decision to finish at West Ham.

“My contract expired, so it is a decision you take.

“I was waiting to sign for a club a few months after the end of the season.

“So I didn’t know in that moment that Liverpool would call me saying, ‘Adrian, come to us, Mignolet has an offer’.

“It was a hard summer for me, a different one.

“Because I didn’t know when I was going to start with another team, in the Spanish league or not.

“But, at the end of the day, it was a great decision to come to Liverpool.

“Everything is happening so quickly. I made my debut on Friday because Ali got an injury and then made my first starting XI for this game. What a win on penalties.

“A goalkeeper’s life is like this. We need to be ready for everything, so I am going to show that Adrian is at a great level and this was a great moment, saving that penalty.”

As Klopp now knows, Adrian is bubbly and outgoing. Something confirmed by West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini yesterday.

When asked whether his former player will be a good character in the Liverpool dressing-room, he said: “Yes, very positive.

“I am so happy for him. We offered Adrian an improved contract.

IMPROVED OFFER

“I think that he is a very good goalkeeper.

“For different reasons, he couldn’t find an arrangement to continue here — but we wanted him.

“He’s not just a good keeper but good for the squad too.”

Adrian is not only popular he is also honest. One image of the Abraham penalty appeared to show Adrian had both feet off his line as it was taken.

The stopper added: “It is really difficult to be on the line — because we need a step forward to push.

“But in the end we need to wait until he strikes. I knew his strong side was my left, so I tried to go there and save with my right foot.”

When the fanfare over Adrian’s Super Cup fairytale dies down, Liverpool’s keeping situation is still a worry.

As he has proved against Chelsea in Istanbul, Adrian is capable of delivering some outstanding saves.

Equally, he always seems on the verge of throwing one into the net — and had a few rather worrying fumbles and moments of poor decision-making against the Blues.

If Southampton play anything like they did in losing 3-0 at Burnley, then Adrian will be fine.

But there will be tougher tests — most notably against Arsenal at Anfield on August 24.

So whether Liverpool’s fans will be so happy about Adrian over the next few weeks remains to be seen.

Jurgen Klopp hilariously shouts 'Adrian' in true Rocky style after Liverpool goalkeeper heroics in Super Cup penalty shootout
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