Liverpool’s dramatic victory over AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final was no ordinary match.
Of course, any game that includes six goals and a comeback from 3-0 down isn’t ordinary. But, nearly 12 years on from one of the most memorable games in Liverpool’s history, some fascinating stories have emerged that night in Istanbul that bit more special.
Take Djibril Cisse revealing that Steven Gerrard asked Rafa Benitez to leave the dressing room so he could address his Liverpool teammates, for example.
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“At half time, Rafa did a speech. He tried to boost and tried to put us back in the game,” Ciise said, per the Mirror. “He was really optimistic. But what really changed the game was Stevie’s speech.
“He asked nicely to the staff to be alone with the players and he said that he is a Liverpool kid, always been his club, he didn’t want to see his club being like this, being humiliated and he said if we scored in the first 15 minutes we would win the game and he’s the guy who scored the first goal.
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“He gave the best captain’s speech I ever heard in my career. He asked everyone to leave, including Rafa, he just asked to be with the players.”
Xabi Alonso has told an equally interesting story about the penalty that led to his goal.
Steven Gerrard had been Liverpool’s regular penalty taker but he lost the responsibility after missing from 12 yards against Tottenham in the Premier League.
Harry Kewell was the other candidate but he was off the pitch, leaving the role down to Alonso. Except there was a problem - the Spaniard had never taken a penalty before in his professional career.
“I remember most of the things during the game and after but before I don’t remember doing anything special to prepare for it,” Alonso told The Anfield Wrap, per the Independent.
“The last game in the Premier League, Stevie missed a penalty against Tottenham so Rafa said in the pre-match talk that in the case of a penalty it will be Xabi or Harry Kewell.
Video: Alonso's goal (3:29)
It was his first ever professional penalty
“Harry was not on the pitch so I was the one. It was my first professional penalty. I’d never taken one at Sociedad so it was my first one. I knew it was a big responsibility, come on, but I wasn’t nervous!
“The story would have been different if I hadn’t have scored the rebound then maybe we wouldn’t be talking here now. The mystique [about missing first] makes it all the better!”
Benitez didn't let Alonso take a shootout penalty
Alonso turned home the rebound after his initial strike was saved. But the goal wouldn’t have counted if it was in a shootout, so Benitez decided that the midfielder wouldn’t be on his list when the game went to penalties.
“When Rafa was deciding the penalty takers he asked me, I said yes but asked which one [and he said] no, you’re not taking!
“I got it, I got it. It’s football history, everyone has heard about it. Everyone will remember that final.”
Indeed. The fact that it’s still being spoken about today proves that.
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