Liverpool fans ignored physical distancing rules to gather outside Anfield in celebration of their team’s first English title in 30 years on Thursday.
Liverpool were crowned Premier League champions when second-placed Manchester City were beaten 2-1 at Chelsea.
Hundreds of Liverpool supporters put coronavirus fears to one side. Incidentally, while celebrating his role in this achievement, the fans were ignoring advice from the club’s manager Jurgen Klopp, as they converged on Anfield to start the title party.
“It’s such a big moment, I am completely overwhelmed,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“Tonight it is for you out there. It’s incredible. I hope you stay at home, or go in front of your house if you want, but not more. We do it together in this moment and it is a joy to do it for you.”
The German promised Liverpool will hold a celebratory parade through the city when it is safe to do so.
“We will create pictures in the future with the parade whenever it will be for all our supporters,” added Klopp. “We will be together and enjoy this in a proper manner.”
But the Liverpool fans, who had waited 30 years for the title, could clearly not wait any longer.
Setting off red flares and fireworks, waving flags, hugging and drinking in the street, the fans were determined to make the most of the long-awaited first title since 1990.
“About 100 supporters had gathered near the stadium, as the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge in west London where Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1. Within half an hour of the end of the game, the number of supporters had swelled to 2,000,” reported Sky News.
Cars also gathered outside the ground, with some beeping horns as they passed scarf-wearing fans carrying crates of beer.
Fan Marilyn Nesbitt and her family, carrying a cardboard cutout of Liverpool winger Sadio Mane, had been in nearby Stanley Park as the match was played.
“This is amazing, especially for them. We’ve been waiting 30 years for it,” she said.
Videos on social media showed many Liverpool’s players watching the Chelsea match together at a hotel.
When Reds defender Virgil van Dijk was being interviewed on BT Sport after the final whistle at Chelsea, he was briefly hugged by a group of Liverpool players wearing the team’s red shirts and singing “champions!”.
Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Andrew Robertson were among the celebrating Liverpool stars.
“We won’t tell you the exact location but we are all in a hotel together as a team,” Robertson told the BBC.
“We thought something hopefully special was going to happen and that’s how it turned out.
“We went a bit crazy but the place went a bit silent when (Manchester City’s) Kevin De Bruyne bagged a free-kick,” he said in reference to City’s equaliser at Stamford Bridge.
“Luckily Chelsea reacted off that. The place went wild and we could sit back and enjoy the last five minutes.”
In Liverpool city centre, the town hall and St George’s Hall were lit in red in tribute to the champions.
Assistant chief constable Rob Carden said Merseyside had been “disproportionately affected” by the coronavirus crisis and people had a responsibility to prevent further cases.
There have been claims the Champions League match between Liverpool and Spanish side Atletico Madrid on March 11 – the last major football fixture played in England before the coronavirus lockdown – played a part in that.
“The overwhelming majority of fans have recognised the fact that now is not the time to gather together to celebrate, and chose to mark the event safely,” he said. “They are a credit to this city.
“Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the lockdown period, not everyone adhered to the regulations in place. Although the vast majority of celebrations were good-natured, a large number of people chose to gather outside the stadium.”
Police officers were seen in the area as fans celebrated but no attempts were made to disperse the good-natured crowd.
Liverpool City Council told fans to “have a great party” but maintain social distancing as they celebrated and Carden urged them to mark the occasion safely.
“In the days ahead, we urge supporters to do the right thing and celebrate safely with members of your household and in your social bubble,” he said.
“By doing this you keep yourself, your family, friends and neighbours safe.”
(With AFP inputs)