The 2005 Champions League final saw Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool take on Carlo Ancelotti’s star-studded AC Milan in Istanbul.
The Italian side were strong favourites heading to Turkey with the likes of Paolo Maldini, Jaap Stam, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Getturo Gattuso, Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko and Hernan Crespo all in their starting line-up.
And they lived up to the favourites tag.
Within 60 seconds, they were ahead through Maldini.
A Crespo brace in the final few minutes of the half appeared to end the final as a contest. It was 3-0 at half time and Liverpool were being embarrassed on the biggest stage of them all.
What on earth would Benitez say at half time? What could he say?
There are multiple stories that have emerged in the 17 years on exactly what happened in that dressing room at the Attaturk Stadium.
What we do know is that Steve Finnan was replaced by Didi Hamann as a substitute and that the Liverpool fans in the stands weren’t giving up hope by singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ despite trailing by three goals.
However, according to someone inside the dressing room that night, it was actually captain Steven Gerrard who inspired the comeback.
Steven Gerrard’s speech at half time in Istanbul
Djibril Cisse – who came on as a substitute in the second half – explains all.
“At half-time, Rafa did a speech. He was really optimistic. But what really changed the game was Stevie’s speech,” Cisse explained.
“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.
“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.
“That’s what gave us the power to go and win the game. You need to have some balls to do this.
“It was the most incredible night of my career. I wish and really I hope a lot of players will experience what we lived through that night.”
Of course, we all know what happened next.
Gerrard pulled back a goal with a header 10 minutes into the second half. Five minutes later, it was 3-3 as Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso – who scored from a rebound after he saw his penalty saved – got Liverpool back on level terms.
Another hour of football was played but both sides appeared exhausted by what had happened and penalties was inevitable – although it did make a miraculous double save from Jerzy Dudek to ensure that.
In the penalty shootout, misses from Serginho and Pirlo gave Liverpool the advantage before Shevchenko’s tame effort was saved by Dudek to confirm the most sensational European Cup triumph.
But it wasn’t just in the dressing room that Gerrard helped inspire Liverpool to the most unlikely of victories. His performance on the night was magnificent and you can check out his individual highlights package below.
It was Liverpool’s fifth European Cup win and they would wait 14 years until their sixth as they beat Tottenham on penalties in Madrid.
Seventeen years on and Liverpool will take on Real Madrid in Paris as they bid to win the competition for the seventh time.
Whatever happens in France, it will never beat 25 May 2005 in Istanbul.