Georginio Wijnaldum has admitted he prevented himself from consoling Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius after the Champions League final for fear of deepening the German's distress.
The 24-year-old, after a solid first half, was culpable for two costly second 45 blunders as Real Madrid secured their 13th European Cup/Champions League crown - and third in succession - with a 3-1 win in Kiev on Saturday evening.
Haven’t really slept until now... the scenes are still running through my head again and again... I'm infinitely sorry to my teammates, for you fans, and for all the staff. I know that I messed it up with the two mistakes and let you all down... pic.twitter.com/w9GixPiQDC— Loris Karius (@LorisKarius) May 27, 2018
But despite his custodian evidently distraught on the full-time whistle; left alone as he collapsed in tears inside his penalty area and only consoled by the Los Blancos victors, the Reds midfielder insisted to the Daily Express his decision to stay away was made with his stopper in mind.
“I didn't say anything because a lot of people already went to him and sometimes you don't like it when too many people come to you," he said. "It’s not the ending we wanted for our Champions League campaign but, you know, sometimes those things happen in football. It is hugely frustrating, but we can't change it."
Takes a lot of balls to not only apologise to the fans after last night, but to also rightfully take on all responsibility for the loss. If you’re sending death threats to Karius then don’t call yourself a Liverpool fan. Secondly, I hope he gets the help he needs to bounce back.— Dharma Bhagalia (@Kloppholic) May 27, 2018
Wijnaldum went onto claim that Mohamed Salah's forced exit through injury also played a significant part in the defeat, adding: “I think it was a big blow for us - it seemed like a big blow for us the way we reacted after his injury. I think when he was on the pitch we did well for 25 minutes but after the injury there was less than before.
“The manager said at half-time that it looked like we were devastated about Mo but we had to let it go and change [our attitude] because it could not change. We had to deal with it but it was difficult.”
...Thank you to our unbelievable fans who came to Kiev and held my back, even after the game. I don't take that for granted and once again it showed me what a big family we are. Thank you and we will come back stronger.— Loris Karius (@LorisKarius) May 27, 2018
However, despite the immediate heartbreak, the Netherlands international is hopeful Liverpool can take positives from their Champions League run this season and provide a challenge both domestically and on the European stage again next term.
“It is always difficult to say what we can do," Wijnaldum stated. It depends on so many different things as to how we do next season. I have confidence. We have learned a lot this season, we learned a lot the season before so hopefully we can achieve great things”.