Liverpool legend Craig Johnston has expressed joy at his club's first league title win in 30 years.
Johnston famously won five league titles with the iconic Liverpool team of the 1980s.
He overcame incredible odds after leaving his Speers Point home as a 15-year-old to try his luck in English football.
Johnston said on Friday morning he felt "elated" with Liverpool's victory.
He was also delighted that Australia and New Zealand had secured the rights to host the 2023 Women's World Cup.
"I've always said my two biggest loves in life are Australia - being Australian and Novocastrian - and football," said Johnston, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday.
Johnston, who lives in Newcastle, said the winter sunshine and football news had combined to make it a "glorious, glorious morning in every sense of the word".
The feeling was particularly special, given "there's been so much scary and depressing news lately".
He saw footage of Liverpool players celebrating after Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 on Friday morning Australian time, which secured Liverpool the title.
He said the "pure joy of the players" would be reflected in the feelings of the club's huge fan base, thousands of which live in the Hunter.
Many Hunter people, in fact, became Liverpool fans because of Johnston.
"You've got to be in your thirties to remember Liverpool last winning the league. Us 60 year olds remember both," he said.
"I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to have played in five winning campaigns and to have been part of that team and club. We, without doubt, were the best team in the world.
"There's no doubt Liverpool is a unique city and club."
He said the latest title win "spans the generations".
Johnston said the millennial generation had "grown up with the stories of the glory days".
"Now they're part of it. They can all talk about the day they won the league," he said.
"This story, given COVID and what happened last year [Liverpool lost the title by one point], is just as soulful and glorious as what I experienced while I was there."
Johnston said winning a league title often came with feelings of relief, as well as joy.
"At the start of the season, it's like you're preparing to go to war. Every game is a battle of wits, minds, bodies, nerves, strength and skill," he said.
"You've got to turn up at every battle and win every one if you want to win the league."
When a team is on top, every opponent wants to beat them.
"It's their cup final, so you're playing a cup final every week," he said.
He said winning a league-title medal had deep meaning.
"It means you're not just a pro footballer, you're a title winner, a medalist. It's like winning a gold medal at the Olympics," he said.
"It's the top of your profession."
Liverpool's victory this season was unique, given the season was interrupted for three months due to the pandemic.
In normal seasons, winning a title comes after a long haul of a different kind.
"It's a very joyful moment because it's been a long, hard season. You only get six weeks off. You can't wait for the winning moment, so you can basically relax and switch off mentally as much as physically," he said.
During the season, pressure builds.
"Fans verbally voice to you, 'don't let us down' and 'all the best'. Everton fans will say 'break a leg and I mean it'," he said, with a chuckle.
Johnston said his five title wins felt extra special as an Australian who faced a complex and difficult journey to make it to the top.
"I was sitting there having a beer once after we'd won the double [the league and FA Cup final in 1986]," he said.
He fell into a daydream as he gazed at Liverpool legends including Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush.
"We all had a pint of beer in front of us. We'd just beaten Everton to win the double [Johnston scored the winner in that game].
"I took a sip and I could have sworn my beer tasted nicer than theirs because I worked so much harder to have the privilege of sitting at that bar that night.
"It was the nicest beer I've ever tasted. I felt I fully deserved it. And I've never had one that tasted the same since."
The one that marked his 60th birthday on Thursday night wasn't bad either.
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- NSW Police Minister David Elliott calls for inquiry into assaults against police after Hunter incidents
- Light aircraft's propeller 'stationary' before fatal Maitland crash that killed Andy Shepherd, ATSB report finds
- Saints' pain as thieves target clubhouse, steal uniforms and cause destruction
- Jobs fly south as Jetstar shuts Newcastle maintenance base