PORTO, Portugal (Reuters) - Liverpool full back Trent Alexander-Arnold, still on a high from becoming a Champions League winner, is hoping for more celebrations as he prepares for Thursday’s Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands.
The 20-year-old, who played a key role in Liverpool’s sixth European Cup success, is battling with Manchester City’s Kyle Walker for the right back spot in Gareth Southgate’s team.
After the 2-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid and then enjoying Liverpool’s open-top bus celebration, the defender met up with his England team mates at St George’s Park on Tuesday before flying out to Portugal and he says he was given a great welcome in the camp.
“The reception has been unbelievable. They’re really happy for us and positive. For the Tottenham lads it must be tough for them, but they’ve come and congratulated us and were one of the first to do it,” he said.
“Even if it was the other way round you have to put what happened with our clubs to one side and focus on winning something for your country.
“We’re a team now, a few days ago we weren’t, but now we are so we need to recognise that and if we pull together for the same aim then we’ve got a great chance of reaching where we want.”
Liverpool born and bred and a product of the club’s youth system, the win was particularly special for Alexander-Arnold.
“I’m obviously still on a massive high, it’s a dream come true and it’s something that you always want to do. You never think that it could actually be possible, but to have a major trophy under the belt now is massive and hopefully we’ll be able to push on for club and country and get some more,” he said.
Two Liverpool team mates could be lining up against Alexander-Arnold for a Netherlands side which is once again looking strong after failing to qualify for last year’s World Cup.
Defender Virgil van Dijk, who was man of the match in Madrid, and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are both in Ronald Koeman’s squad for the Nations League final four.
“It’s an incredibly tough game. Even if I didn’t know them both personally, you’d still know that the Netherlands are coming back to where they once were.
“They play some really good football, they’ve got a really good squad, really young and exciting. It’s a bit similar to us in the terms of the way they are going about things and it’s exciting to see,” he said.
The winner of Thursday’s match in Guimaraes will take on either hosts Portugal or Switzerland in the final — they face each other later on Wednesday in Porto.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge