Evertonians, look away now…
I was planning to write something incredibly serious today, about the budget cuts and how the proposed £6bn must be just the start, in light of the Greek troubles. But you can go and read something better than I would have written on the Independent website instead, while ten minutes hate indulges in some unchecked nostalgia from five years ago today.
I had a couple of opportunities to go to the Istanbul Champions League final in 2005, featuring AC Milan and Liverpool. Both of which fell through right at the last minute, leaving me gutted enough to contemplate not watching the match at all for – oh! – about three seconds or so. In fact, I watched the game in the excellent surroundings of a good friend’s front room, equipped with an amazing barbeque, huge telly and, really, who could ask for more?
Lucky Papa Smith did get to go and spent what sounds like a cracking couple of days in Istanbul soaking up the culture. There is more on the city, as well as some wonderful photos of a completely non-footballing nature, here.
Words to describe what happened that evening are difficult to find, although I will give it a go. Supporting Liverpool has always been about dealing with the depths as well as the highs, however, I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for so many of them to be crammed into one game. From half-time, where I said a sort-of half-hearted prayer to any passing god that was listening for us ‘to please score one’, to the sight of this just half an hour later:
(Doesn’t it still rock your world seeing Smicer up there?! It does mine.)
There is all kinds of talk about what happened at half-time to change things and, while we will probably never know exactly, I like to think that it was a combination of Rafa’s words, the fans in the stadium who wouldn’t stop singing – my dad still had no voice three days later – and some kind of weird footballing alchemy that saw us lifting our fifth European Cup that night, the only English club ever to do so.
You can’t call yourselves Liverpool players if you have your heads down. If we create a few chances we have the possibility of getting back into this. Believe you can do it and you will. Give yourself the chance to be heroes.
– Rafa Benitez
That was one of the best finals I ever played in. We played really well, much better than Liverpool, and we really deserved to win much more than them. But that’s football.
– Paolo Maldini
The English club proved that miracles really do exist. I’ve now made Liverpool my English team. They showed that football is the most beautiful sport of all. The Liverpool supporters didn’t let me go to sleep the night before, there were 10 of them to every three Milan supporters. They showed their unconditional support at half-time when they were losing 3-0 and still they didn’t stop singing.
– Diego Maradona
Final word to the skipper:
Two European Cup finals in three years — not bad for a little club.
– Steven Gerrard
Pictures ‘borrowed’ from The Independent, Big Soccer and The Telegraph (worth reading for Henry Winter choking on our ‘Istanbul miracle’)