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Mona Neymar recalls ‘tremendous’ Champions League win as Liverpool look to kick-start the second half of their season

Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Everton in last Monday night’s Merseyside derby may not have fixed all their problems overnight, but it certainly changed the complexion of their season ahead of some crucial weeks in which Real Madrid Will feature a double-header against. And before that an important Premier League match against Newcastle.

The Champions League has always been a special competition for the Reds, and in recent years Jurgen Klopp’s side have been responsible for one of the club’s six wins and three of their 10 final appearances.

A pillar of the club’s backroom staff over the past seven years has been Mona Neymar, who as the club’s head of nutrition will be part of the revolution that his compatriot Klopp set in motion when he joined in 2015.

Neymar recalls the day all the hard work behind the scenes finally paid off; A 2-0 win over Tottenham who won the 2019 Champions League Final at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

Above, Liverpool’s head of nutrition Mona Neymar. (supply)

“I think there was a moment where nobody could really digest and understand what was really happening,” Neymar said at the Liverpool FC store in the Dubai Mall on a recent visit to the UAE. “For me, it took me weeks and months to really understand, and I’m not sure I understand it yet. It was such an overwhelming situation, so unique, so historic. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.

Neymar joined Liverpool from Bayern Munich in 2016, and Klopp has often cited him as one of his best signings at Liverpool.

“So when I arrived we already had a good basic setup, and I was in the fortunate position to have all the confidence and strength to develop it,” she said. “Jürgen and the ownership said you have a white canvas here. So you were the experts, let’s see what we come up with, and it’s been an amazing journey so far in these seven years.

“We’ve got a lot of things set up, we’ve built up a full department and we have amazing members of staff. We still have our girls, Caroline (Guest) and Carol (Farrell), they’ve been there for so long. They are part of our team, they are part of the heart of the Catering team.

“And also our dining room is like a central point in the training ground, it’s a bit like home, like the best part is starting in the kitchen. And that’s how we try and live our philosophy out there.

Nemer has released a book titled “A Taste of the Liverpool Way: Recipe for Success” and says her role will involve driving continued progress in the nutrition and health fields.

“Over the last 10 years, there have been huge advances in nutrition, and it is vital that we are not standing still. So while we think science is moving very quickly, there is a lot of commotion everywhere.

“Technology has a lot,” she said. “What’s going on is where we can do more on the cooking side, but also more on the general body composition measurement side. And we’re so lucky to work for one of the biggest football clubs in the world.” So I think (we are) always trying to hit the benchmark and try to be a little bit ahead. And the Premier League is also such a competitive league where we’re always trying to be a little bit quicker. We do.”

It has been a challenging season for Liverpool on and off the pitch, with the first-ever World Cup sandwiched between the domestic English and European campaigns.

Neymar says that while Liverpool staff have been in touch with their players in Qatar, they also rely on the national teams – and work with them – to ensure they are given the best possible care.

“So the amazing thing is that we are a really big family, not only in football, but also around nutritionists all over the world. We have a very collegial, very open exchange,” Neymar said. “And that’s the same interest, where we are for the players, we want to help the players and we have some secrets, but not in that context. So we want to share their match routine, we want to give rest to other institutions what our players do. I think it is very important to stick together because we all work towards the same goal.

Neymar is keen to highlight that his important role is still part of the team effort.

“It’s very interesting because football is a team sport,” she said. “And it’s the same behind the scenes with the team collaboration, the exchange, all the different departments, the medical departments, the sports science, the kitmen, the player liaison. That’s why everyone is contributing in this.

“Teamwork makes dreams come true, and that’s how we’re playing.”