"Can you hear that? They still believe in us. We have to give them something back" 9 months ago

"Can you hear that? They still believe in us. We have to give them something back"

Never has a Champions League final comeback been so captivating.

Steven Gerrard's two goals against Austrian minnows at Anfield got Liverpool a ticket to the big dance. It also sparked a remarkable journey as one of Europe's top dogs showed they had some bite left in them.

What began with a less than convincing two-legged clambering over Grazer AK, in August 2004, culminated in Liverpool reaching the Champions League final against a formidable Milan side on May 24, 2005.

Liverpool had got the better of Deportivo, Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea to reach the final at the Ataturk Stadium and their supporters travelled in droves to cheer their side on.

Milan were gunning for their seventh European Cup trophy while Liverpool were after their fifth. They had won their first four in a seven year span but no Liverpool captain had lifted the trophy since 1984.

The manner of the Reds' dramatic semi-final win over Jose Mourinho's Chelsea had convinced many of the club's supporters that this was their year. However, Paolo Maldini punctured that veneer with a Milan goal just over a minute into the tie. Hernan Crespo bagged a brace in six whirlwind minutes before half-time and it looked like curtains for Rafa Benitez' side.

During an interview on the official Champions League podcast, Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek spoke about Gerrard's rallying call to his teammates at half-time. He said:

"The referee was knocking, knocking [on the dressing room door] and we had not finished our talk with Rafa yet. And he was putting the pressure on, telling us we have to go, we have to go.

"And before we went, Alex Miller, who was Rafa's assistant, said, 'Listen, guys. First of all, you have to get that first goal quickly. Then, if you get that second goal, they'll start to panic. Once they do that, we'll get the third goal'.

"Once he finished, we went out and something amazing happened. We started to hear the 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from the Liverpool supporters. 1,000... 10,000... 30,000.... 40,000 voices. We can out and heard that and thought, 'This is amazing. We're losing 3-0 and they're still believing in us'.

"Then Stevie Gerrard asked everyone to come into the middle (of the pitch). We did a circle and he said, 'Can you hear that? Do you hear that? They are still believing in us. We have to give them something back'."


What followed, in the second half, was a thrilling Liverpool comeback from the very brink. They clawed their way back from 3-0 down to level at 3-3 with Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso goals raining in between the 54th and 60th minute.

Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko described the six minutes as 'a black-out' and it was enough to rouse his side into life. The Italians pressed for a goal that would make it 4-3. Shevchenko had a goal-bound effort cleared off the line in regular time and Dudek produced a stunning double save in extra time as the game ended level and headed for penalties.

Dudek and Liverpool goalkeeping coach Jose Ochotorena had studied Milan's penalties from previous seasons, just in case the game would be decided on spot-kicks. They came up with code-book for each Milan player they felt would take the penalties. All sounds good, but Jamie Carragher not not resist sticking his oar in. Dudek recalls:

"Carra jumps on my back and he was pushing me, and shouting, 'Come on Jerzy, come on! You need to put the pressure on them, More pressure, more pressure. Do something to put them off.'

"I said, 'Carra, let me look at this book. I have the penalties here to study.'

"'No, no, no,' he says. 'Put the pressure on. Do something. Remember Bruce, remember Bruce Grobelaar'. I said, 'Okay, but let me go and look at this book'."

In the end, Dudek did a bit of both. Himself and Ochotorena signalled to each other about where Milan's players were likely to place their penalties, and the Polish goalkeeper threw in some Grobelar-esque, wobbly legs theatrics.

Serginho fired his penalty over before Dudek saved from Andrea Pirlo and Shevchenko. Liverpool won the shoot-out 3-2 and their improbable and captivating comeback was complete.