Sadness to surreal: The biggest day in Tyler Adams' career

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Leipzig's Tyler Adams scores his side's second goal during the Champions League quarterfinal match between RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (Miguel A. Lopes/Pool Photo via AP)

LISBON – A day that ended with Tyler Adams producing the biggest moment in Leipzig’s history — and his own young career — started in disappointment.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann had to break the news to the 21-year-old American midfielder that he wouldn’t be starting the Champions League quarterfinal against Atletico Madrid.

“He understood my arguments,” Nagelsmann recalled on Friday in a video call. “And he said, ‘I’m a bit sad but when I come into the game, I can make the difference.’ And I told him, ‘Yes, you can (make) the difference because you’re an emotional guy.‘”

It took until the 72nd minute for Nagelsmann to deploy Adams from the bench.

“When I put you on the pitch,” Nagelsmann recalls telling Adams, “try to decide the game.”

He delivered, like never before in his career.

Marcel Sabitzer and Angelino combined before feeding the ball to Adams. Without a goal in his injury-disrupted 20 months at Leipzig, Adams’ confidence wasn’t diminished that he could break the 1-1 deadlock in the quarterfinal.

A shot was unleashed and — thanks to a deflection off Stefan Savic’s heels — it flew past goalkeeper Jan Oblak.