Steven Gerrard's Half-Time Speech That Inspired Liverpool's Istanbul Comebackby Oisin McQueirns
15 years on, Liverpool’s Champions League final victory over AC Milan still lives on as one of the competition’s greatest ever comebacks.
Under the guidance of Rafa Benitez, Liverpool impressively defeated Juventus in the quarter-finals before knocking Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea out in the last four.
In the final they faced one of the most star-studded AC Milan sides of the last 20 years, equipped with the likes of Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka.
Liverpool found themselves a goal down after just a minute before a Hernan Crespo brace gave Milan what looked like an insurmountable half-time lead and left the Reds with a mountain to climb.
Former Liverpool and France striker Djibril Cisse started that game in Istanbul and gave a brilliant insight into what the dressing room was like at half-time.
Speaking to the Mirror, Cisse pinpointed captain Steven Gerrard’s speech as the catalyst for Liverpool’s iconic second half comeback.
“At half time, Rafa did a speech,” began Cisse.
“He tried to boost and tried to put us back in the game. He was really optimistic. But what really changed the game was Stevie’s speech.”
“He asked nicely to the staff to be alone with the players and he said that he is a Liverpool kid, always been his club, he didn’t want to see his club being like this, being humiliated and he said if we scored in the first 15 minutes we would win the game and he’s the guy who scored the first goal.
“He gave the best captain’s speech I ever heard in my career. He asked everyone to leave, including Rafa, he just asked to be with the players. That’s what gave us the power to go and win the game. You need to have some balls to do this.”
Gerrard’s speech clearly had a profound effect on his team, with the captain grabbing a goal back in the 54th minute, with his ability and passion driving Liverpool back into contention.
Two minutes later Vladimir Smicer made it 3-2 before Xabi Alonso’s equaliser in the 60th minute levelled the game.
The final eventually went to penalties, with Serginho, Pirlo and finally Andriy Shevchenko missing their spot-kicks which sensationally handed Liverpool their fifth Champions League crown.
“It was the most incredible night of my career,” continued Cisse.
I wish and really I hope a lot of players will experience what we lived through that night. But I know it’s one of a kind, only us. It was really, really special.
“We celebrated the ten year anniversary and even watching the videos for us, it wasn’t real, it looked like a movie or something. It was a strange feeling for me.”