Jurgen Klopp said that he has never won a “more special trophy” than the Carabao Cup Liverpool claimed against Chelsea despite being without a collection of first-team stars and needing numerous academy players in the final at Wembley.

Liverpool were without 11 senior players for the first domestic cup final of the season and also lost Ryan Gravenberch in the first half, however, the four youngsters who were called upon stepped up to the task and captain Virgil van Dijk headed in an 118th-minute winner to clinch a tenth League Cup triumph.

In more than 20 years it is easily the most special trophy I have ever won. It is absolutely exceptional,” said Klopp. “Sometimes people ask me if I’m proud of things and it’s really tricky, I wish I could feel pride more often but tonight is an overwhelming feeling.

“I was proud of everyone involved in everything here: I was proud of our people for the way they pushed us, I was proud of the staff for creating this kind of atmosphere surrounding where these boys can just do what they are best at.

“I was proud of our academy, I was proud of my coaches, I was proud of so many things. It was completely overwhelming. It was nothing to do with it being maybe my last game at Wembley.

“Can you create in football stories which definitely nobody will ever forget? It’s so difficult because ‘this’ happened before, ‘this’ happened before: this tonight, if you find the same story with academy players coming on against a top side and still winning it, I’ve never heard of it.

“I loved it. What we see here today is so exceptional. We might never see again. Not because I’m on the sidelines but because these things don’t happen in football. I got told there’s an English phrase ‘you don’t win trophies with kids’. I didn’t know that.

Getty: Robbie Jay Barratt
Getty: Robbie Jay Barratt

This was the eighth piece of silverware collected during Klopp’s reign and marked the start of a gilded farewell given he will leave the club at the end of the season. Liverpool remain in contention for the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League in Klopp’s final campaign.

Asked if this latest trophy success would enhance his legacy at the club, Klopp replied: “I couldn’t care less about my legacy, I am not here to create one. Nothing we’ve done in the last eight or nine years is replaceable, we couldn’t have done the same at another club. It was exactly made for this combination. It is fantastic.

“We learned so much in that time, the people learned so much. That’s the one thing — it’s not a problem if a manager leaves, if these people would leave, our supporters, that would be a problem. As long as they are the way they are, Liverpool Football Club will be fine and that’s the most important thing.”

Van Dijk, who had already seen a goal in normal time ruled out for offside, proved to be the match-winner and Klopp reserved special praise for his captain. This was the first trophy the Dutchman lifted since taking over the armband in the summer.

From the first day coming into the club [Van Dijk] was absolutely outstanding,” Klopp said. “Thank God he is in form, top shape. I think he learned an important lesson for himself: you always can win the game.

Pochettino: 'They need to feel the pain'

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino had to contend with falling short of a first trophy in English football and a sixth straight domestic cup final loss for Chelsea. His team were dominant in the latter stages of normal time and had a stronger substitutes bench, but could not make such advantages tell.

Getty: Chris Lee
Getty: Chris Lee

Gary Neville, commentating for Sky Sports, labelled Chelsea as “Blue billion-pound bottle jobs” but Pochettino did not agree with the assessment. “I didn’t hear what he said, but if you compare the age of the two groups, I think it is similar,” Pochettino said.

I have a good relationship with Gary and I don’t know if that’s how I can take this opinion. But I respect his opinion. It is true we didn’t keep the energy of how we finished the second half. I don’t know how you can describe this situation. But I feel proud. I feel proud of the players, I think they made a big effort.

“We are a young team and it is nothing to compare with Liverpool just because they finished with also a few young players. He knows the dynamics are completely different. I think it’s not fair to talk in this way, if he said that.

“They need to feel the pain. We play for a trophy and we didn’t get it. What can you tell me to feel better? Nothing. They need to feel the pain like us.