Staring into the abyss, Manchester United FC had one advantage over Juventus – his name was Roy Keane.
Such was the Republic of Ireland midfielder's influence in Turin, United may as well have had an extra player; there was one Keane to supplement their attack, and another Keane to stifle Juve. He was immense.
Dismissed as "kids" only a few seasons previously, United's homegrown youngsters had developed into genuine European pretenders but had to tap into youthful abandon when a 1-1 first-leg draw quickly became a 3-1 aggregate deficit.
Poacher extraordinaire, Filippo Inzaghi, was the man to inflict the early damage. Just six minutes had gone when the wily Italian international shrugged off Gary Neville to bundle in Zinédine Zidane's cross from close range. He soon had a second, looping a shot over Peter Schmeichel from the acutest of angles thanks to a hefty deflection off Jaap Stam.
United suddenly needed two goals but, fortunately for them, Keane was not a man to give up without a fight. Hassling and harrying throughout, the tenacious No16 showed in a flash his impeccable timing at the other end on 24 minutes, heading David Beckham's corner past Angelo Peruzzi.
Then, just after the half-hour, came a booking which ruled him out of the final. Not one to go into his shell, though, such punishment merely served to add more fuel to the considerable fire already in Keane's belly. His side were level moments later, Dwight Yorke peeling off his defender and swooping to head Andrew Cole's cross past Peruzzi.
Yorke struck the woodwork before the half was up, but Juve were no shrinking violets themselves and were on top after the interval. Inzaghi did find the net once more but, the man once labelled as being "born offside" by Sir Alex Ferguson, was just that.
United finally found their feet again only to be denied – this time Denis Irwin was the victim – by the inside of a post for a second time. No matter. With seven minutes left Yorke danced through the hosts' defence and, felled by Peruzzi, saw his accomplice Cole on hand to tap into the empty net.
A sizeable travelling contingent went into raptures – their team had reached a first European Cup showpiece in 31 years, beating Juventus in Turin to do it. Could it get better than that? Even without Keane, you bet it could.