Football

Jerzy Dudek was the hero in Istanbul.

Jerzy Dudek and Rafa Benitez created penalty code for Champions League final

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Jerzy Dudek was one of the heroes in the 2005 Champions League final as his two penalty saves in the shootout sealed a dramatic win for Liverpool.

And there was more to it than just his ‘spaghetti legs’ tactic.

In his autobiography ‘A Big Pole in Our Goal’, the former Red has explained he had a secret code with then-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez that helped him predict where AC Milan’s players would aim.

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Dudek saved from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko - while Serginho fired over the crossbar - as Liverpool won the shootout 3-2.

All goalkeepers do their research if they know a penalty shootout is possible at the end of 120 minutes but you’ll be hard pushed to find a duo who studied as hard as Dudek and Benitez.

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Dudek wrote, per the Liverpool Echo: “Rafa was very keen on attention to detail and before the final all the information about AC Milan’s penalty and free-kick takers was put on a board in the dressing room.

“He advised me to mentally divide the goal into six squares. Starting from the top right would be squares one, two and three and from the bottom left would be squares four, five and six. I would then look at videos of opposition penalty takers and work out which ‘square’ they were most likely to strike their penalty towards.

UEFA Champions League Final - AC Milan v Liverpool

“While we were waiting for the shoot-out, ‘Ocho’ [Benitez] took out a list detailing the penalty-taking habits of their players. It was written in our code with each AC Milan player having a number next to his name.

“‘I’m not going to remember all this,’ I said to Ocho. ‘You need to help me.’

“I came up with another plan instead. ‘Before each penalty I’m going to look at you. Stand up and raise your hands. If you raise one hand, I’ll go left, if you raise two, I’ll go right. That’s all you can do from the distance, but it will help me.’

“It was actually Scott Carson who would raise his hands to signal which way I should dive. Ocho would look at his notes and tell him which arm to raise as each of their players walked down towards me.”

UEFA Champions League Final - AC Milan v Liverpool

Dudek ignored the code

Despite all of their planning, Dudek actually didn’t follow the code to its entirety. He ignored Carson’s calls three times and, thankfully, wasn’t made to pay for his disobedience.

The Pole added: “I didn’t quite stick to Rafa’s code!

“Benitez came over to me on the pitch and, without displaying any emotion, said to me: ‘Tell me, Jerzy, why did you dive in completely different directions than we showed you?’

“I’m glad I did dive the opposite way!"

Was the 2005 Champions League final the best final in the tournament's history? Have your say in the comments section below!

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Topics:
Steven Gerrard
Football
AC Milan
UEFA Champions League
Liverpool
Andrei Shevchenko

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