Expedia presents an interview with former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso about the greatest UEFA Champions League final comeback of them all.
Article top media content
Trailing 3-0 at half-time in the final of the 2005 UEFA Champions League in Istanbul, Rafael Benítez's Liverpool seemed to have blown their chance of winning the top prize in European football for the first time since 1984.
In this interview presented by Expedia, former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso explains how he equalised at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, after goals from Steven Gerrard and Vladimír Šmicer had cut the deficit, and how Liverpool went on to complete 'The Miracle of Istanbul' by winning on penalties.
"You go in the tunnel, you are so focused. You watch on the other side and you see the Milan team. The experience they have, the players they are, it was impressive. And you see just a few metres ahead, the trophy's there. My wife was there. My father with my brother, he was there. My mother, she had stayed in San Sebastian. She was like screaming on the sofa.
"We wanted that trophy so much, it meant so much after so many years. For us, it was the first Champions League final. We were quite tense. We knew the responsibility that we had."
"[Milan] were playing so comfortable, so easily. So we were making things very easy for them. OK, we had the ball, but we were not creating chances. We were not dangerous, and I remember at half-time I was so disappointed with myself. Some of the players, they were really down, really like 'wow, it's gone' and 'we have no chance'.
"And Rafa, instead of giving us a very emotional speech: 'Oh, you have to change this...', 'they don't deserve this! You have to...'. He gave us a very tactical speech, a tactical talk about what was going wrong and what we had to change, and we said: 'Let's see what happens.'
"Stevie's first goal gave us hope. That confirmed that we were doing things better. And when Vladi scored the second goal, we said: 'Yes, we are going!' I had the feeling that the third one was coming. It was my first professional penalty. I had never taken a penalty as a professional. I was very clear where I was going to put it, and the penalty was not bad but Dida made a great save. But I had the quickest reaction ever in my career and with that rebound it was like I was reborn.
"We knew we were back in the game and we had one more life and we had to keep alive. After we had scored the third, we were in good shape, but Milan were like a wounded lion – when they come back, they are even more dangerous. We had to defend the life that we had got back. And from there the final whistle of the extra time it was like... it was long. And they could have scored.
"When it came to penalties, we had the belief that we had come so far... so it probably meant it's fate and it meant that we had a good chance. A very tense, very dramatic moment. When you see that, it's like one of your team-mates goes on his own to war, against his chosen soldier with your soldier."
"An explosion of happiness. Euphoria. I started running, not even thinking what to do. The best thing, apart from the happiness at what you have achieved, is to know how happy you have made people. How happy you have made Liverpool fans. And that's what sticks in our memories and what makes us proud. I think that after so many years, that's the best thing. It's what we play for. Without the fans football is nothing."