Where Were You For Istanbul?

A moment that will live forever

So, Manchester City won the 2022-23 Champions League. We will be told tales of their great team, greater manager, and how they are the best team to have ever graced the football pitch. Yet the reality is that this is only a newfound success for City. They will never have what we have: class and history. Liverpool fans have often asked the question, “Where were you for Istanbul?”

Back on May 25, 2005, Manchester City finished 8th in the league with a certain Robbie Fowler finishing joint top scorer with 10 goals. I was back in Ireland, having gotten engaged to my American sweetheart only a couple of months beforehand. We made one last trip home before our summer wedding. Wednesday evening, May 25th will never be forgotten.

READ MORE: How Do We Remember This Season? by Morgan O’Sullivan
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Setting The Scene

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I remember watching the final from the couch in Blackrock in Cork, Ireland. The first half was a numbing experience watching goal after goal hit the back of the net. I remember thinking that with the team we had at the time it was a miracle we were even there. My brother, an Everton fan, was gloating in the worst way possible. “I’m telling you, it’s not over yet.” He was loving it but knew that the wound was so raw he had to give me some hope.

Stories have emerged over the years of what really happened at halftime. Around the world, there was an exodus of fans lost in hope and despair. One of my father’s best friends went to bed in agony, knowing his ‘Pool was well and truly beaten. Many left the stadium in Istanbul or simply changed the channel at home.

The Miracle of Istanbul

This was Rafa Benitez’s first season in charge of the club. We were truly a team in transition. Throughout the year, surprisingly great results would be punctuated by shocking results and performances. Even Everton finished above us that season!

As the second half began, the first goal from our captain made things look respectable. All in all, it offered a glimmer of hope. And if you are a dreamer like me, you clung to the hope of a second before the 85-minute mark and hoped for the best. After that, the Smicer goal from outside the box filled us with belief. That will go down in history as the moment we knew. It was the moment we could feel something special happening yet were not even sure what. Thirdly, the Xabi Alonso penalty saga added to the adventure. Stevie going down, the initial penalty being stopped, the Spaniard slamming home the rebound. At that point, we were buzzing. But after all that, it was Jerzy Dudek’s FIRST save on Shevchenko that sealed it. This was no ordinary night.

Sealing The Deal

With five minutes left in injury time, I could take no more. I left the house and went for a quick walk. My father had left long before to go on a calming drive. The nerves and pressure felt as intense as any person on the bench was feeling. I say bench because those on the field could make a difference. Those on the bench were like us, kicking every ball and blocking every shot in their mind.

The win in Istanbul will go down as one of the greatest nights in Liverpool’s history. The following day, Sky Sports News provided 24-hour news coverage of the return home. I received phone calls and emails from every corner of the globe congratulating me on the win. It was almost as if I played the game myself. And in a way, that was the night where every Liverpool supporter did play a part and did “play” in the game. It was a momentous effort with hope, belief, and support carrying us to victory.

Manchester City may have won against Inter Milan at the same Attaturk Stadium. But the reality is that they will never have Istanbul. We lived the impossible dream, and even now watching the game back we wonder how on Earth did Dudek keep that shot out? Where were you for Istanbul?

Ugly Crying and Tissues American Scouser Podcast

We think there was a game this weekend as well but the main topic of course is Klopp's farewell
  1. Ugly Crying and Tissues
  2. Two Week Notice
  3. Having Fun Again
  4. The Turkish Rodeo
  5. Glimpse of Hope