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European ChampionsWhat were you thinking at half time? What were you thinking at 3-0 down after that abysmal first half performance? What were you thinking? Liverpool weren’t outclassed… Milan weren’t playing masterful football… all they did was find a weakness and went for the kill… Djimi Traore.

Did I blame him? At the time… YES, I HATED HIM! I hated his bald head, I hated his long legs, I hated his mediocrity, and yet he was playing in the Champions League Final, playing for the biggest, most wanted trophy in club football. What was going on? Why were Liverpool playing like a bunch of girls? They had no sense of direction, no emotion, and no affection. Where was the love for the game of football? Shouldn’t the wonderful history of the club be driving them on? Shouldn’t the title of European Champions alone be enough to motivate them?

As the great Bill Shankly once said, “Football isn’t a matter of life and death – it’s much more important than that.”

So what was I thinking? I was disappointed, I was frustrated, I was ashamed of being a Liverpool fan, watching my team about to be humiliated by the Italian legends that they already were. Milan have the best defence in the World, not even the great Brazilian sides would think they could come back from this. How can a Liverpool team that failed to beat Southampton even score a goal? I lost all hope, I considered going home, as did my friends, but nobody said a word, the pub was almost silent. It was well and truly over, the dream was crushed, no chance were they going to lift the cup for a 5th time.

♫ When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of a storm, there is a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark. ♫

There was one man, a man who still believed.

Rafa… Rafael, Rafa… Rafael, Rafa… Rafael, RAFAEL BENITEZ!!!

The master tactician was about to do his wonders, “just keep your chin up and go for it, you have nothing to lose.” Can we still see a glimmer of light?

With a change of formation, we saw Gerrard with more freedom to run and to drive the team forward, and finally, Liverpool’s Captain Fantastic was back to his best and even better. He was made for this stage, and he alone turned this game around with his looping header from a sweet Riise cross. The fans erupted, a roar that could have been heard on the moon. Liverpool – You will never walk alone, the sky was definitely turning gold.

Smicer scores in his last game for the club, Xabi Alonso lashes the rebound from his saved penalty into the roof of the net, Traore saves on the line, Carragher makes 2 last ditch tackles with cramp. So it was 3-3 and then it was penalties. There was only place in the history books for one team. Milan were the better team on paper, but all the omens pointed to Liverpool. New Legends were born tonight, and one in particular was the un-consistent Jerzy Dudek, not only did he make an impossible double save at the end of the 120 mins, not only did he save three penalties, including one from Shevchenko, one of the best strikers in the World. But he did it by the wobbly legs, an impression of the famous Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs during the 1984 penalty shoot out win. He was the hero of the night.

Liverpool are the Kings of Europe 2005, the RAFAlution is here…

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