Jordan Henderson and the Champions League trophy will become well-acquainted again if Liverpool beat Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday – though he might not be allowed to take it to his local pub.

Phil Thompson was the Reds' captain in 1981, when Liverpool also faced Madrid in a European final in Paris.

A 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes ensured the trophy was going back to Merseyside once again following their successes in the European Cup in 1977 and 78.

But this time there was even more of a local flavour to Liverpool's victory, with Thompson becoming the first Scouser to lift the trophy, and he was determined to make it a memorable homecoming.

The UEFA delegate who handed him the cup might not have expected Thompson to take it to the pub, however.

Alan Kennedy, who scored Liverpool's crucial goal in that final, told Stats Perform: "First of all, we knew that Phil Thompson had it, but we didn't know what he was going to do with it.

"We thought he might take it in his car. What was it? I'm sure he had a Ford Capri at the time, and it was a souped-up one, if I remember rightly!

"He put it on the front seat and everybody else had to get in the backseat and whatever. But he knew we had to look after it. He knew he was responsible for it.

"I think the rest is history about going to some of the pubs in Kirby [a town on the outskirts of Liverpool]."

There were no such stories after Henderson and his Liverpool team-mates returned to Merseyside victorious in 2019, with the trophy seemingly guarded with greater security these days.

Though Thompson insists the cup never left his sight.

"It wasn't a mission, it was always in my safe hands," he added. "I'd always planned that I was taking it back to the Falcon [a pub], I was taking it home to the Falcon in Kirby, so it's now become quite legendary.

"I travel the country and they say, 'Is it a myth?' Or, 'is it true that you took the European Cup to a pub in Kirby?' And I did.

"After we'd done the [parade] I put the European Cup in a big velvet bag in the back of the Ford Capri, an awful one, to the Falcon."

Henderson will surely just be happy to get his hands on the trophy once again, even if bringing it to his local is out of the question.

Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min were more deserving winners of the Premier League Player of the Season award than Kevin De Bruyne.

That is according to Liverpool legend Phil Thompson, who also told Stats Perform that Erling Haaland will not necessarily make Manchester City a stronger side next season.

City playmaker De Bruyne last week edged out Son, Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joao Cancelo, Jarrod Bowen, Bukayo Saka and James Ward-Prowse for the award.

The Belgium international played a key part in City's successful title defence with 15 goals in 30 league appearances and a further eight assists.

Remarkably, the 30-year-old's 15 goals came from an expected goals (xG) return of just 6.2, meaning he scored nine goals more than expected from the quality of his chances.

However, his 23 direct goal involvements were fewer than Salah (36), Son (30) and Harry Kane (26) managed, albeit having played at least five games fewer than any of those.

De Bruyne ranked above each of those players for chances created (87), though, and was behind only Alexander-Arnold (90) and Bruno Fernandes (89).

But Thompson believes that Liverpool forward Salah and Tottenham's Son – who shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals – were more consistent than De Bruyne over the season.

"I think it has to be Mo. I know the players have all given it to Kevin De Bruyne and he's a wonderful player," Thompson said. 

"He's been wonderful for the last couple of months, but it's over a season and people get swayed by people who finish the season well. 

"That is still in their minds when they're just putting their name on that form, or whether it's all done on phone now. 

"But I would like to think over the whole year, and yes, Mo hasn't been rattling them in for the last six weeks or so, but overall, he has been.

"They were talking around Christmas time that this is the best player in the world. He's not gone from being the best player in the world to playing second fiddle to De Bruyne. 

"I'm sorry. Mo Salah was the player of the season and then probably Son has probably been more consistent over the whole nine months."

City's title triumph was their fourth in the past five seasons and they have already moved to bolster their squad with the signing of Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund, a tally only bettered by Kylian Mbappe (90) and Robert Lewandowski (123) since January 18, 2020. 

But, citing a rather mixed campaign for British record signing Jack Grealish, Thompson questioned whether Pep Guardiola will get the most out of Haaland.

"He is a wonderful player, a great player," said Thompson, who won 17 major honours across 13 years playing for Liverpool, before a stint coaching the Reds.

"Is he a missing piece for the jigsaw for them in the Champions League? They can still do things, but it might upset them a little bit. 

"As you see with Grealish, who was £100million, has that worked? He's playing as a left-winger because it's the system that Pep likes. 

"So you've got an out-and-out centre-forward who, yes, is full of energy, but he doesn't understand the press that City use. It'll be a change for them. That might change things." 

Liverpool, who have seen Luis Diaz hit the ground running since joining from Porto in January, are themselves expected to be active in the upcoming transfer window.

A deal for Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho is already in place, but Thompson is not sure if signing a big name is really necessary in order to keep pace with champions City.

"We have a set pattern, though I still hope that we'll sign a couple of players," he said.

"I do believe that's what you have to do all the time to give that little bit of a buzz in the dressing room, to change things up on the pitch. And we have just come up short."

The 92 points accrued by Liverpool this season is the joint-eighth most in Premier League history, yet it was not enough to pip City, who finished one point better off.

Thompson added: "We have to find the magic ingredient to go that extra couple of points to win that league, but we don't have to do too much. 

"Chelsea signed Romelu Lukaku and he played well those first half a dozen games. They were going to win the league the way the season started and look how that's unravelled.

"It's not necessarily a gimme that it always works."

Ian Rush, John Aldridge and Jamie Carragher were among those to pay tribute to Roger Hunt on Tuesday after he died aged 83.

The former Liverpool and England international passed away on Monday following a long-term illness.

Hunt won the World Cup with England in 1966, playing all six matches and scoring three times. He earned 34 caps for the Three Lions.

He joined Liverpool in 1959, firing 41 goals in 42 games to drag them out of the second tier and into the First Division under the stewardship of Bill Shankly.

The forward managed 285 goals in 492 games for the club, which was a record until Ian Rush surpassed the haul in 1992, but no player has ever scored more league goals for the Reds than Hunt's 244.

And Rush led the tributes to an Anfield legend, posting: "Very sad to hear of the passing of Sir Roger Hunt, someone I would always look up to. He was a fantastic goalscorer and a true gentleman on and off the pitch. My thoughts are with his family. May he rest in peace."

John Aldridge, another Liverpool goalscorer, used to play with Rush up top and he echoed his strike partner's sentiments.

"I'm absolutely gutted to hear of the passing away of one, if not the best LFC [Liverpool] strikers Sir Roger Hunt," Aldridge wrote on Twitter.

"What a striker and a true gentleman, I had the great pleasure of being with him on many occasions. RIP my Nu 1 [number one] legend and hero."

Phil Thompson grew up idolising Hunt before making his debut at Anfield, where he would later become assistant manager, and posted his condolences to social media.

"What an awful day, the passing of my true hero who I'm glad to say became a friend," Thompson said. "A humble man and a legend of the game. RIP Sir Roger."

While ex-Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher added: "RIP Sir Roger Hunt, one of the greatest goalscorers our club has ever seen. Sir Roger along with the other legends from the 60s made LFC the club it is today."

Former club Liverpool, who Hunt enjoyed an 11-and-a-half year spell with, joined a host of names paying tribute to the 83-year-old, posting: "The thoughts of everybody at Liverpool FC are with Roger's family and friends at this sad and difficult time."

While Reds head coach Jurgen Klopp hailed a Kop legend, who "comes second to no-one in his importance in the history of Liverpool FC", FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham promised a fitting tribute for Hunt at England's next home game.

"English football has lost another great with the passing of Roger Hunt," said Bullingham.

"On behalf of the FA, our thoughts are with his family and friends today. Twice a league champion with Liverpool, either side of a memorable FA Cup success in 1965, Roger will always be treasured by fans across the country as one of our World Cup winners of 1966.

"He will forever be remembered at Wembley Stadium and we will pay tribute to his memory before our home fixture with Hungary next month."

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