Skip to content

Jamie Carragher and Phil Thompson relive Liverpool's Istanbul win

Gerrard lifts the European Cup after Liverpool beat Milan on penalties
Image: Gerrard lifts the European Cup after Liverpool beat Milan on penalties

Monday marks 10 years since Liverpool completed arguably the greatest ever European Cup final comeback to beat AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul.

On 25 May 2005, the Reds trailed a rampant Milan side 3-0 at half-time with statisticians desperately scrambling to find out the largest winning margin in the final of a European final.

However, three goals in six second-half minutes saw Rafa Benitez’s side remarkably draw level before surviving a fresh Milan onslaught to take the game to penalties, triumphing 3-2 in the shootout to be crowned European champions for the fifth time

Ask anyone connected to Liverpool and they will have a story to tell you about that night, whether they were at the Ataturk Stadium or not, and that is not just true of the supporters.

We spoke to three men who saw the game from very different perspectives: Jamie Carragher, who played for Liverpool that night; Rob Hawthorne, who commentated on the match, and Liverpool legend Phil Thompson, who captained the side to European Cup victory in 1981.


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jamie Carragher reflects on Liverpool's dramatic Champions League win in Istanbul

“I remember coming down (at half-time) with my head down and you’re almost embarrassed to look up. You didn’t even look at your team-mates.

“This is the biggest game of your life and you’re not going to play a bigger one, probably for the rest of your career. And in 45 minutes you’re not losing you’re being embarrassed with the whole world watching. If you lose 3, 4, 5-0 you can’t even enjoy what you’ve done before.

“'We could break a record here', that’s what I’m thinking walking off. If you watch the game back again, they look like they’re going to score a fourth before we score our first. If you’d have offered me 3-0 or 3-1, I may have took it.

“The first goal gives you hope, the second one belief. I knew as soon as that goal went in, the reaction of everyone, even the Milan players were shell-shocked. There was no way we weren’t getting that game back once that second goal went in. I think it’s one of the great nights in football.”


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sports' commentator Rob Hawthorne describes what he remembers

“It was a contrast of emotions (at half-time) really because it was a fantastic display of football but part of you is thinking 'this might be the only Champions League final I ever do, we’ve got a British club in it and they are just being hammered here'.

“You just could not see any way back for them, none of us could. I remember Andy Gray at 3-0 saying something like ‘I don’t like saying this but that’s game over’. Nobody would have argued against him.

“The other thing about the game itself, from Liverpool’s point of view, was that it felt like we were getting to the end of an era, there were quite a few players in that game, and I remember that Vladimir Smicer was one of them, of whom we felt it was going to be their last contribution for Liverpool.

“So when Smicer, who looked to be on his way out, scored that goal it did start to have a feel of a fairy-tale element about it.

“Because of the magnitude of the occasion, the thrilling nature of the comeback and obviously what it meant in terms of Liverpool winning a fifth European Cup it has to be head and shoulders above everything else.” 


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Phil Thompson reflects on the magic night

“I was very nervous because I’ve been a Liverpool fan my whole life. I was enjoying the opportunity to get there when Sky asked me to go out there as a pundit. I was really excited, this was a bit of a dream if you want, going out there in a lovely hotel with the guys, but I was so nervous because you wanted to win, you wanted it to be the fifth European Cup.

“It was a very difficult time because 12 months prior to that I’d been assistant manager at Liverpool with Gerard Houllier so I’d known most of the players who were there. The way it had transpired during the season, you thought Rafa Benitez had a way of winning games and there was always that chance.

“It was quite incredible the ball hitting the back of the net (in the first minute) and you just went ‘oh no.’ It happened so early in the game, you were just deflated.

“Little did we know what was going to come about after that. I’d don’t think anybody could have foreseen what was going to take place on that night in Istanbul.”

Around Sky