When Kolo Toure launched a successful last-ditch challenge on Kevin Gameiro in the Europa League final, the tackle appeared no more consequential than giving Liverpool renewed hope they could survive the second half storm from Sevilla and complete victory. Jurgen Klopp's side would go on to be overwhelmed by their La Liga opponents, but the legacy from Toure's heroic effort could still be felt.
It was perhaps the moment that Martin Skrtel, the Slovakia captain, realised that he has no future at Anfield. The 31-year-old was an unused substitute in Basel – a position he has occupied 10 times this term under Klopp – and reduced to the role of consoling those individuals who came close to securing the club's ninth major European trophy. He even suffered the ignominy of receiving a yellow card after protesting against Sevilla's third goal, an act that could be his last while representing the Merseyside club.
Even with Mamadou Sakho on the sidelines and his immediate future uncertain, the Liverpool coach turned to soon-to-be out-of-contract 35-year-old Toure. The Ivorian is not yet assured of a role next season but his prospects look optimistic when compared to Skrtel – particularly with Joel Matip arriving from Schalke in the summer. With two years remaining on his deal on Merseyside, Skrtel must attract a new club to ensure his career does not dwindle into obscurity.
But in the form of the summer's European Championship, as the spearhead of a plucky Slovakian side looking to upset the odds on their tournament debut, Skrtel has little to lose and much to gain. Drawn with England, Wales and Russia, the Jan Kozak-coached team will either courageously miss out on a place in the last 16 or spring a surprise by doggedly reaching the knock-out phase. Either way, it is hard to see Skrtel being anything other than at the fulcrum.
The foundations to Slovakia's progress to their first Euros were formed by a run of six successive victories at the start of their qualifying campaign. That run included a shock victory over reigning champions Spain, who were still licking their wounds from a harrowing defence of their World Cup, and a defensive record that saw them concede just three times during that run.
Napoli's Marek Hamsik may rightly so be the poster boy of the Slovak side, with his five goals and world-class billing making him the stand-out attacking threat. But it is at the back where Slovakia's success lies and allows Hamsik, Miroslav Stoch and Adam Nemec to shine in the final third.
As European clubs prowl over players at Euro 2016 – a competition which is to the transfer market what bordello windows are to Amsterdam's Red Light District – Skrtel will be right at home in among familiar faces.
Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy or Daniel Sturridge will be selected to lead the attack for England while Wales will have the tandem of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Even Russia's forward line will not be alien to Skrtel, with Rubin Kazan's Maksim Kanunnikov – an opponent during Liverpool's Europa League campaign – in contention for a call-up.
The summer may have represented a period of uncertainty for Skrtel after realising that his Liverpool tenure is coming to an end, but instead that doubt ushers in new horizons. Organisation is likely to be the buzzword during the continent's premier international competition, and in Skrtel Slovakia very much trust.