The Top Three Liverpool Moments From the Last 10 Years
With Liverpool’s six match unbeaten run in the league halted by Arsenal, so comes an end to the optimistic thought of a third place Premier League finish. Now all of the hopes rest on Liverpool’s next league match against close rivals Manchester City with the blues having games in hand meaning a must win for Liverpool is required to avert disaster.
But let’s not dwell on a pessimistic possibility.
Today I’d like to remember three moments throughout my childhood and adolescence that gave me reasons to celebrate a team who were only invincible before I was able to acknowledge it.
League Cup Final 2001 – Liverpool vs Birmingham
Sadly I did not have access to the Sky Sports channels as Liverpool headed into a League Cup final. They were the predicted winners, against a team who were just grateful to reach a cup final and I was expecting to be delighted at the outcome.
So just shy of my sixteenth birthday, before I would become an ‘adult’ I sat in a room I shared with my brother, listening intently to the match on Five Live radio.
I had finger nails to begin with but these were all but gone after a ninety minute match where I had to endure various moments of intense commentary where Liverpool failed to take victory at 1-1.
It had gone to penalties.
It’s bad enough watching them when you have the visual; your heart pounds and your stomach travels upwards until its inches away from your mouth.
So without being able to see what was happening I could just go off the commentators anxious utterings of each penalty. Thankfully Grainger missed straight away for Birmingham, and a small sense of relief was thrust upon me.
But then when Dietmar Hamann missed and Birmingham levelled at 3-3 in the shoot out I was back to square one, back to biting the ever decreasing finger nails.
My faith was momentarily restored as my idol Robbie Fowler smashed his penalty in, leaving me pleading for Birmingham’s player to ‘miss it’; words that continuously crept out of my mouth in the hope that it would put the player off!
But Birmingham equalised again.
Jamie Carragher scored, and I was ecstatic after worrying the defender might miss. I was then advised that Andy Johnson edged towards the penalty area.
There was a silence, then there was the sound of a ball being kicked, and then there was complete europhia as Johnson missed and Liverpool went crazy.
I screamed for about five minutes in a mixture of celebration and relief, and could not remove the smile from my face for days to come.
Champions League Final 2005 – Liverpool vs AC Milan
Although I turned the match off at half time, fearing embarrassment, I obviously wasn't as careless as the depressed Liverpool fan who took his own life during the matches interval.
At the time of the final I had been struck down with illness; a combination of unhealthy university life and insomnia that made me housebound and restricted mainly to my bed. So I had my small twelve inch television in my line of sight and a nasty feeling in my gut that refused to disappear.
As Liverpool were dominated in the first half I wondered why I was bothering to watch what I would be ridiculed for in the years to come. I imagined Liverpool losing by five goals and upwards, which in theory made sense due to their disastrous league campaign that year. They had seemed lucky to reach the final in the first place.
I put on a dvd in an attempt to sleep off my illness, but alas it was not to be. Although I lived in the middle Aberystwyth, on the coast of Wales, there was a strong Welsh contingent who followed Liverpool over all of the other English teams.
Only someone who lives or has lived in Wales would ever understand their philosophy of supporting the Anfield outfit, yet it was this Welsh collection of Kop fans that had filled out the welsh pub opposite my house.
They awoke me with a startle as they erupted into cheers, Liverpool evidently having clawed a goal back.
I quickly switched my tv back to the action and saw the replay, and a beautifully positioned header from Steven Gerrard.
However my first feeling was that it would be a consolation goal, so I turned back to the dvd and relexed my eyes.
But then a mere few minutes later the same euphoric sounds repeated themselves from the pub and this time I switched it back to the football and kept an eye on the action. With only a one goal deficit between the two teams my beloved Liverpool team could seize an unexpected opportunity of accomplishing a jaw dropping fight back.
As the third and equalising goal flashed in only six minutes after the first I forced myself into concentration and got back to supporting the team I had been behind since the earliest years of my life.
I was elated as the game went into extra time, purely for the acknowledgment that Liverpool had diverted what had seemed to be an inevitable embarrassment. They had instead proven themselves to be worthy finalists.
When it then went to penalties I was as alert as humanly possible under the circumstances. Obviously at this point and in my current weakened state a penalty shoot out loss would have just been cruel.
Jerzy Dudek’s hilarious and at the same time inspired recreation of Bruce Grobelars wobbly knees technique gave me light relief and allowed Liverpool to win the shoot out more comfortably than anyone would have expected.
Tears burst from my eyes, in what I might add was more due to the illness rather than the scenes I had witnessed. All the same however I was overwhelmed at the result.
I remember vividly through the droplets protruding from my eyes, the post match interviews with Carragher and Gerrard and the huge sense of glory I felt at finally being given such a momentous triumph to remember for the rest of my life.
The players seemed as shocked as I was, but it would prove to be Liverpools most glorious moment of the last twenty years.
I didn't even care I had only been able to watch it from the cramped and difficult condition I had found myself in.
Champions League Group Match 2007 : Liverpool vs Besiktas
Well, after the triumphs of 2005 and the achievement two years later of another final appearance, Liverpool seemingly fell flat on their faces in the 2007/08 campaign. With Marseille looking to beat them to a quarter final position and a previous defeat to relatively inexperienced Beskitas side, it looked as though Liverpool would catastrophically fail to qualify from a group they were expected to cruise through.
The second meeting with the Turkish team was a chance for Liverpool to go down fighting, but I wasnt expecting much in the way of progress as a result.
And when Liverpool knocked in a couple of goals I felt relief that they would attempt a mathematical whilst at the same time difficult prospect of quarter final qualification.
The match itself though became much more than that as the goal riot that developed in the second half saw Liverpool create a new record for the biggest Champions League victory, allowing myself and all those watching to be the most compelled by a Liverpool game since the aforementioned final of 2005.
The team proved once more that they were a force to be reckoned with, and gave Rafa Benitez and ourselves a glimpse of why one Mr Peter Crouch can be sought upon to spectacularly rise to the occasion.
Besiktas were demoralised and destroyed after the ninety minutes, and I had renewed faith in a team that were still failing to compete as gloriously as they should be doing in the league.
The victory was followed by Liverpool achieving qualification to the quarter finals which sadly proceeded an early exit, but it proved to the doubters that the team had the ability to perform within them.