It is not only membership of the goalkeepers’ union that compels Adam Bogdan to sympathise with Loris Karius. Were it not for an injury sustained 18 months ago, it might have been him suffering in front of the eyes of the world in Kiev in May – or even excelling.
The 30-year-old on-loan Hibernian goalkeeper, who is in the final year of his Liverpool contract, has signed a 12-month deal at Easter Road. He accepts his dream of making it with the Anfield club, where he made four appearances, is now over. His prospects were badly served when he tore his ACL while on loan at Wigan Athletic. Bogdan was glad to link up again with Neil Lennon, who he worked with while the pair were at Bolton Wanderers.
But he had one last taste of the big time at the Champions League final in Kiev earlier this summer as Liverpool went down 3-1 to Real Madrid. It’s impossible to discuss this game without reflecting on Karius’ role. The unfortunate keeper’s mistakes directly led to two of Real Madrid’s three goals.
It was later revealed he had been suffering from concussion following a clash with defender Sergio Ramos just after half-time.
Signed by Brendan Rodgers from Bolton as back-up to Simon Mignolet, Bogdan’s own chances to become Liverpool No 1 were hampered by some nervy performances when given the chance. Even he accepts empathising with Karius was difficult since he had not endured such a painful night on such a huge stage and probably never will. But he did once concede eight goals while in goal for Hungary against the Netherlands.
“We were not in good shape and we got run over by an amazing Holland team,” he recalled, with reference to the World Cup qualifier five years ago in Amsterdam.
“It can happen. It happened to [Manchester] United against Tottenham, or Arsenal against United. But when it happens to a national team, it is a national tragedy. Of course it is more painful and emotional than in normal club life, when you have another game next Saturday. It is the nature of being a goalkeeper and why we probably look more serious.”
But Karius’ trauma was on another level. Bogdan, who was not included in the match-day squad, watched the drama unfold from a seat behind the dug-out in Kiev. Mignolet, meanwhile, was named on the bench as back-up to Karius. Both sought to console the German goalkeeper afterwards.
Bogdan recounted the feelings of “sadness” as he realised Liverpool were not going to lift the trophy: “It was too much for the heart! It was emotionally unbelievable, because everyone was going in with such positivity, to win it. The fans were amazing, the team was confident and then you realise you are not going to win it. Such sadness comes with it.
“It was even more emotional as a goalkeeper because we can relate to our team-mate,” he added. “That whole day was full of highs and lows and then trying to grasp and get over it for a week. If it had not been such a highlighted game – the biggest game in Europe – then you just say ‘it happens to anyone’. But the stage was so big that you can’t know what that’s like. I have not yet played in a Champions League final. That makes it much harder to get over, I guess.”
What happens next with Karius remains to be seen. It’s difficult to see him playing again for Liverpool amid reports linking the club with a move for Roma’s Brazilian keeper Allison Becker.
Sadly this is how it is for goalkeepers. Bogdan is already reconciled to his time at Anfield having run its course. He is excited at this next chapter in his career, in a country he remembers visiting as a seven-year old with his father. “My father had an idea that he wanted me to speak English – he did a good job but he should not have sent me to Inverness!” he said.
With Ofir Marciano still recovering after finger surgery, Bogdan is likely to make his competitive debut for Hibs in the Europa League qualifier with NSI Runavik at Easter Road next week. He will then go from the Champions League final to sampling the less intense atmosphere of the Faroe Isles seven days later in the second leg.
“Liverpool didn’t start the Champions League campaign in Kiev,” he noted. “Two season ago we played in Switzerland in Sion and also in Kazan. You have to be humble and be ready for the opposition you face.”