Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher has admitted that his team were not the better side on the night of their remarkable Champions League success against Milan in Istanbul in 2005.
The Reds famously scored three goals in the space of six minutes to erase their rivals’ lead in Turkey and force a penalty shootout, which they went on to win.
The match is widely considered one of the most remarkable sporting feats of the 21st century, with Rafa Benitez’s achievement still held in high regard by supporters and rivals alike, but reflecting on the match a decade-and-a-half later as he prepares to rewatch the game, Carragher has acknowledged that the best team on the day were the ones that went home empty-handed.
“We knew before the game that Milan were far better than us,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “That didn’t mean we couldn’t win. However, when you’re 3-0 down at half-time to a team that is far better, it makes it difficult to say ‘right, we’re going to do this and this and this to get back into the game’.
“Milan’s performance was unbelievable. For 114 minutes, they gave one of the best performances you are going to see in a Champions League final.
“Half the team were going to win the World Cup the year afterwards. Shevchenko was the best striker in the world at that time, Kaka went on to become the best player in the world alongside Ronaldinho for the next couple of years.
“It was a special team that gave a special performance apart from six minutes, but that’s football and that’s what makes our sport the greatest. It was a bit of a freak. It has been called a miracle, and that’s what it was – a miracle.”
Carragher further weighed in on the enduring international popularity of the match, adding: “Even when I go on holiday during the summer, whenever I go to a hotel, a bar or a restaurant somewhere in Europe, if somebody spots me or finds out who I am, the first thing that comes up in conversation is Istanbul.
“What makes Istanbul so special is because of the way we won it. It affected Liverpool fans more than anybody, but it’s a game that will be remembered around the world. It means something to people. You just don’t get finals like that.”