Wataru Endo savored his first title in England after helping Liverpool capture the League Cup with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Chelsea on Sunday.

The Japan captain was jubilant despite being left battered and bruised after a physical 120-minute contest at Wembley Stadium that saw Virgil van Dijk seal a record 10th League Cup for Liverpool with his 118th-minute header.

The trophy follows a sometimes turbulent journey for Endo, who initially struggled following his transfer from Stuttgart last summer but made himself integral to manager Jurgen Klopp's team through his hard-nosed play in defensive midfield.

Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo holds the trophy after his team's 1-0 win over Chelsea in the League Cup final at London's Wembley Stadium on Feb. 25, 2024. (Kyodo)

"I've felt like this is a team that demands results, so winning the title is a big thing for me personally as well," Endo said.

Liverpool had a goal chalked off by the video assistant referee on the hour mark when Endo was deemed offside before Van Dijk headed in from a free-kick. But the Samurai Blue midfielder more than made amends, making tackle after tackle in a gritty performance lauded by Klopp after the game.

Liverpool's Wataru Endo (R) plays in the first half of the League Cup final against Chelsea in London on Feb. 25, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

 

The German manager, who is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, called the League Cup the "most special trophy" he had won after a succession of injuries forced him to use several young and inexperienced players in the final.

Endo added to the injury concerns for the current English Premier League leaders, who are in the running for a title quadruple including the FA Cup and Europa League.

Liverpool's Wataru Endo (C) plays in the first half of the League Cup final against Chelsea in London on Feb. 25, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

He departed the ground on crutches, the result of a heavy knock to his left ankle, and also showed signs of cramping in his hamstrings as the match went into extra time.

But the 31-year-old could only smile and express pride as he hobbled in front of the media after the game.

"We got through it somehow," he said. "I came here so I could take part in this type of tough battle."

Liverpool's players pose for photos after winning the League Cup final against Chelsea in London on Feb. 25, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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