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Jamie Carragher: Champions League victory is greatest achievement

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Jamie Carragher admits that Liverpool's Champions League triumph in 2005 will always be his career highlight.

25 May 2015 marked the ten year anniversary of the Reds' European Cup win against AC Milan which they miraculously won on penalties after being 3-0 down at half-time.

The game has been dubbed the 'Miracle of Istanbul' by many as Liverpool dragged themselves back and clinch Europe's elite club competition for the fifth time and first since 1984.

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Carragher was a key player in Rafa Benitez's side that year as he formed a formidable centre-back partnership with Sami Hyypia. They both had the task of keeping Andriy Shevchenko and Hernan Crespo - who netting twice in the first-half - quiet for the second period and extra-time.

The now Sky Sports pundit put in a whole-hearted display and although he was suffering with cramp as the final whistle neared, he never once thought about quitting.

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"Any player will tell you that cramp is the worst thing you can get in a game. But I had to get over it and carry on,” Carragher told the Liverpool Echo.

“I was never gong to come off in a game of that magnitude. There was a European Cup at stake.

“Milan were the best team in Europe at that time. They had some excellent players and we couldn’t handle them in that first half.

Game changer

“Didi (Dietmar Hamann) coming on played a massive role in what happened next.

“At 3-0 down, to bring on a defensive midfielder, was a brave move by the manager.

“Some will have questioned that but the change paid off. Going to three at the back and pushing Stevie (Gerrard) further forward helped us gain a foothold in the game.

“Stevie’s header gave us some pride back but it was only when (Vladimir) Smicer’s goal went in that I started to really believe.

“The greatest moment was when he (Jerzy Dudek) saved Shevchenko’s penalty and we were all chasing Jerzy.

“My cramp had gone! I must have been bluffing it."

Istanbul

Carragher won numerous trophies with Liverpool including the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and League Cup treble in 2001.

However, like most Red players who competed at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, it will be the Champions League victory that will be their favourite footballing memory.

AC Milan had an unbelievable squad that year - Shevchenko, Crespo, Andrea Pirlo, Paulo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf were all considered the world's best.

Liverpool's squad consisted of the likes of Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan, Anthony Le Tallec and Neil Mellor and, with the greatest respect to them all, were nowhere near in the same class as the opposition.

At 3-0 down it looked all over, however, through a mixture of tactical changes from Benitez, the loyal support of the army of Kopites in the stadium and sheer heart and desire, somehow the Reds got back into and won the game.

Memories

It was an unbelievable night, one that will remain in Anfield folklore for the rest of history and Carragher too, still pinches himself over the victory.

“I remember in the weeks and months afterwards not quite being able to believe we had won it and it’s the same 10 years on," the former England international added.

“But it happened and it’s there for the world to see. I was privileged to be involved in a game that so many people remember, not just in this city but all around the world.

“Games like that come around very rarely. You might get one in football every 20 or 30 years.

“It’s something I’m reminded about a lot because it was such an iconic game.

“It was the highlight of my career by a long way. It’s one of the greatest nights in the club’s history and there has never been a better European Cup final.

“Football is funny. After we lost to Burnley in the FA Cup, if you’d said that a few months later we would play in the greatest European Cup final of all time everyone would have laughed. It just goes to show you are never as far away as you think.”

Unfortunately, Liverpool could not repeat their victory when beaten 2-1 by AC Milan in the Champions League final in 2007 in Athens. Nonetheless, it still was a miraculous achievement.

Champions League Nights

Anfield is renowned for its European nights and so many memories have been created. St. Etienne in 1977 is one cherished by many supporters, likewise the 2005 semi-final against Chelsea.

Unfortunately, Liverpool have been deprived of Champions League football in recent years.

They qualified for the competition for the first time in five years this campaign, however, their effort was severely lacklustre and managed just five points in Group B and finished third to Real Madrid and FC Basel.

The Reds will compete in next year's Europa League, however, Kopites want to see their team mix against Europe's premium team's once again.

Will Liverpool ever get the chance to win a sixth European Cup? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below! 

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Topics:
Jamie Carragher
Football
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Liverpool

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