AC Milan defender Cafu is relishing the chance to erase the memories of 2005 when the Italian side face Liverpool FC in the UEFA Champions League final on 23 May.
'Amazing and unbelievable'
Two years ago Milan looked certainties to claim the European Champion Clubs' Cup for the seventh time as they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead in Istanbul, only for Liverpool to produce a remarkable comeback to level in the space of six second-half minutes. Cafu has not forgotten the pain of that experience, telling uefa.com: "I promise you we will do everything to beat them and try to forget that defeat. What happened in Istanbul was amazing and unbelievable, one of those things that won't happen again. I am kind of a cold character and I don't suffer much because of the past, but it will obviously be special for us to meet Liverpool again - and beat them this time."
Although that night is full of bitter reminiscences for the former Brazilian international, one instance in particular stands out – Andriy Shevchenko's decisive miss in the penalty shoot-out which confirmed Liverpool's victory. "That moment is hard to describe," Cafu said. "It was like taking a shower in cold water, or as if a piano had fallen on to your head. I was destroyed, but it is part of this great game called football."
Cafu remains confident Milan can reverse that result in the final at the Athens Olympic Stadium, and one of the reasons is the superlative form of his club-mate and compatriot Kaká, the ten-goal leading scorer in this season's UEFA Champions League. "He's one of the best of the world, it's a pleasure to play with him," said Cafu, who also recognises the talents of a trio of English-based players, including the man who sparked Liverpool's revival two years ago. "It's hard to pick only one player as the best in the world, there are so many others playing so well. Maybe for what he has been doing since last year I would pick Didier Drogba. Kaká is one of the best, as are Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard."
At the age of 36 and despite having agreed a new one-year contract last week, Cafu's thoughts are inevitably turning to retirement. "I haven't decided yet where I will finish. Maybe I will end my career here in Milan, but there is a possibility of going back to Brazil," explained Cafu, who nevertheless believes the continued presence of Paolo Maldini, two years his senior, may yet provide him with the impetus to prolong his career. "He is an inspiration, not just for me, but for all players who are 30 and think they can't play any more. Paolo works so hard every day, it is such a positive attitude. His dedication is an example to us all."
Cafu was talking in the uefa.com chatroom. To read the chat in full, click here.
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