The day he was presented, a round of reporters were formed, respectful of the safety distance but anxious to ask the big question in the most direct way possible. Loris Karius listened attentively to his interlocutors standing on the grass of the An der Alten Försterei, on October 13, when the question resounded like thunder.
– Have you passed the final in Kiev or are you afraid that that night will end up recorded on your headstone?
There was a dramatic silence and the new Berlin Union goalkeeper tried to appear impassive. “I got over it a long time ago,” he declared.
Two years had passed since the Madrid-Liverpool final and all the people gathered around him wanted to know if he had managed to recover from something they perceived as some kind of disabling illness. The most disastrous performance by a goalkeeper in the history of the Champions League finals had been – and still is – that strange succession of gestures that began in the 51st minute, when he handed the ball over to Karim Benzema in the area, so that the French made it 1-0 without taking a step. The ball simply hit him on the foot and into the goal. Half an hour later, Bale fired from 30 meters and the goalkeeper intercepted the ball in such a way that it was introduced into his goal. It was the final 3-1.
The question of those sent to the Union Berlin stadium was pertinent in October and is still pertinent now, as Liverpool – a club that pays part of the long million euros of Karius' annual salary – faces again to Madrid tomorrow in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. But the man prefers to remain silent. His agent, from the Sports Excellence company, says that his client prefers not to talk about the final in Kiev. When asked if he wants to talk about his origins in Ulm, what exactly motivated him to become a goalkeeper, how he experienced his time of great promise as Bundesliga goalkeepers at Mainz, or what Jürgen Klopp told him when he signed him for Liverpool in 2016, he also refused. After a week of reflection, he simply replies that he "does not want" to answer anything. Nor is he interested in making comments of any kind. As if his job scared him away, which is entirely reasonable, given the situation,
Karius did not play for Liverpool again. In the summer of 2018 the club transferred him to Besiktas, but there he could not be the subject of anything more relevant than boos from his fans – he was eliminated from the Cup by Erzumspor after scoring six goals – and rumors about his licenses in the night of Istanbul. In 2020 Besiktas released him after he conceded 95 goals in 67 games. Rather than return to Liverpool to sit on the bench waiting to fulfill his contract in June 2022, he preferred to go on a loan to Berlin, where his girlfriend, the striking television star Sophia Thomalla, is registered.
The day of his presentation — after the epitaph issue – announced that his purpose in the Berlin Union was to take first place under the sticks. But Karius was never able to take ownership from Andreas Luthe, a 34-year-old obscure goalkeeper who had spent half his life at Bochum, in the Second Division, and who made his Bundesliga debut this season. Marginalized to Cup nights, he didn't have much work either: Paderborn eliminated him in a single match: 2-3.
26 of 30
The only one who showed interest in reviewing the past was Klopp. According to the German coach, it was at his request that Karius underwent a neurological examination after the final in Kiev. "Six days after that game Loris had 26 indicators out of 30 of having suffered a head injury," Klopp declared in 2018, after denouncing that the mistakes made by his goalkeeper were the result of an attack by Sergio Ramos, who elbowed him in minute 47. "They knocked the goalkeeper down as if this were wrestling and then won the match."
Karius leaks that he did not like that Klopp made this complaint. The man hopes that the future will provide him with a more honorable argument to defend the cause of his career, since the past, and the present, doom him. But as the future does not exist at the moment, and as he is on his way to turning 28, one wonders if the goalkeeper is still there or is he really lying under the tombstone in Kiev.
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