Thursday 26th of May 2005
The ticket story will certainly have to wait, last night is
still so fresh and exciting I don't want to forget anything.
As I said we would, just 24 hours ago in these pages,
the Red Army rode into Eternity, with the most unbelievable
game of football you could ever see. Three nil
down at half time, then three-three, and on to penalties,
Dudek saves from Shevchenko and we bring the cup
back home. Unbelievable. The Red Army erupts and the
red gladiators dance gleefully, if gladiators are allowed
to be gleeful. Some of the most unbelievable sights,
grown men crying, others hugging, others just quiet in
contemplation, then delirious, exuberant, I don't have
enough words to describe the overpowering mass of
emotion as the players engulf Dudek and signalled a fifth
European Cup. The emotion wasn't just confined to one
end of the Attaturk Stadium, two-thirds of the ground
was bouncing with delight and shaking with relief.
Liverpool fans did our Club and our city proud and travelled in vast numbers. There must have been at least
40,000 Liverpool supporters in this oasis in the middle
of the Turkish wasteland.
The match itself was the most amazing match ever
and created the widest range of emotions I have ever felt
in one short period of time. From desolation and disappointment to incredible joy and all within three hours.
This is how it went, step by step.
By the time the teams arrived, the Kop was in
full voice and rocking the stadium. I won't forget
the Milanese, even though they were few in number
compared to us. The end they occupied was an array of
red, white and black flags and I now know, they were all
wearing coloured plastic covers. They were, as most
Italian clubs are, extremely well organised and take
their lead from designated fans who orchestrate their
performance as such. Us though, we do it off the cuff
and sing as one often with an uncanny knack, we do it
with feeling and passion and love. The Liverpool end
was a mass of red and white, hundreds of banners,
draped across the empty front rows. Each banner and
flag has a story to tell, our local pubs, Jamie Carragher
and personal banners such as `Ian Topping RIP', still
remembered by those close who would wish him there.
That banner can be clearly seen during the penalty shoot
out. I would like to think that brings some form of
comfort to his family and friends.
This is what we had come for, or as Phil from Norris
Green said, this is what we were made for. This was our
destiny. The referee blew his whistle and then it all went
so horribly wrong. Within a minute Maldini, that legend
of the Rossanieri and Italy scored what I believe was his
third goal in 18 years, what a time to do that. What was
happening to our destiny? Well 89 minutes left so we
would just have to change our plan. The problem was
that by half time we were three nil down and totally, and
I mean totally ripped to bits. We had a penalty appeal
and a Hyppia header that went close, but they had
waltzed around our back ten (well it wasn't just the back
four) and we had lost Kewell through injury. We were
looking at a serious hiding.