Liverpool Change
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Liverpool Henry Winter

I’ve been reporting on football for twenty-eight years now and there are two stand out memories that made for two of the most difficult working nights of my career, but they led to two of the most momentous and dramatic stories that you could ever have the joy to cover.

25th May 2005 Atatürk Stadium – A C Milan v Liverpool

Half time in the Champions League final and Liverpool were three nil down. Some fans were coming across and saying “that’s it mate, game over, were heading in to town to Thaskin Square to have a few drinks, can’t see us coming back, AC Milan are just too good, look at the players they’ve got.” Kaka was playing, they had Crespo, Shevchenko, they just had too much for Liverpool to cope with. Liverpool had done brilliantly just to make the final. Their desire to add a fifth European Cup to go with the extraordinary memories of the achievements of Dalglish, Souness, Hansen, Nicol and all those players down the years had carried them to this point. Then the most remarkable events happened in the second half.

We didn’t know at the time that Raffa Benitez had used half time to make a stirring speech, nor that Steven Gerrard had left the dressing room door open so the players could hear the 40,000 Liverpool fans still showing their support, singing ‘you’ll never walk alone’. What we did see was Gerrard emerge from the tunnel for the second half and was totally pumped up. He clearly realised it was going to be the biggest moment of his career and he was going to do everything possible to achieve the glory he dreamed of when growing up as a kid supporting Liverpool. He basically went out there and seized the moment, he scored, he won the penalty, he got them back into it. Then extra-time and Ancelotti began to send on fresh players, Carragher was suffering from cramp, holding on to the post trying to get rid of it, lactic acid coursing through his legs, but all that was going through Gerrard was pure adrenaline and a desire to get through to penalties.

All his work was rewarded when he lifted the European Cup., which he then took back to his hotel room and left on the end of his bed so he could wake up to it in the morning.

It was another nightmare game to cover as by half-time I’d written about 1,000 words on AC Milan’s total dominance prior to all that magic unfolding in the second half.

Henry Winter

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