The story of Liverpool’s dramatic comeback to defeat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final is one that is certain to go down in folklore.
A tale of determination, commitment and passion; no matter who you support, you will have heard of the incredible display of self-belief as the Reds came from behind to win on penalties – their first European Championship title for 21 years.
The Merseysiders had beaten the elite of Europe in order to reach Istanbul; defeats of Chelsea and Juventus preceded the trip to Turkey as Liverpool overcame the odds to reach the final, let alone return home as Champions.
So, seven years after the memorable European night, what are the Liverpool heroes of that infamous game now doing?
Manager: Rafa Benitez
The Spaniard was appointed as Manager at Anfield with high expectations of developing a successful side in England. Benitez moved to England having won the Spanish La Liga twice with his former employers Valencia as well as a League and UEFA Cup double in 2003-04. It was expected that the 58-year-old would go on to guide a side capable of challenging for success domestically and in Europe.
Liverpool suffered a stuttering start to their Premier League campaign and the absence of key personnel meant that the Reds rarely threatened Chelsea and Arsenal at the peak of the table. The Merseysiders eventually finished in fifth.
However, their form in the European Cup contrasted their form in the League as they battled against the odds to reach the final. In the season after their European achievement, Benitez became the Chief Architect as his signings boosted the Club’s domestic form, finishing third by just one point.
The Reds also won the FA Cup – again coming from behind in extra-time to win on penalties – against West Ham United. Aside from the odd secondary domestic trophy, Benitez rarely achieved in England with Liverpool. The Reds favoured campaigns in the FA Cup and League Cup but were unable to mount a title challenge and eventually Benitez departed the Club in June 2010.
After leaving Anfield, he took posts at Inter Miland, Chelsea and Real Madrid, achieving success at varying levels across all three clubs.
Two months after departing the Bernabeu, Benitez was appointed as manager of relegation threatened Newcastle United. The Spaniard could not save the Magpies from relegation to the second tier; however, he remained as manager and the following season he led them to the Sky Bet Championship title. During his time at Newcastle, Benitez has won 52 of his 118 manages, a win percentage of 44%.
Next up is the man who ultimately won Liverpool the Champions League Final, Jerzy Dudek. The former Concordia Knurow goalkeeper made the move to Merseyside under then-coach Gerard Houllier. The Pole immediately made his presence known as he became the first choice shot-stopper during his first term in England.
Dudek continued to impress under Benitez and was a catalyst in the Reds’ run to the Champions League final. At the end of extra time in the final, Dudek performed a double save against Milan before going on to save from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko in the subsequent penalty shootout.
Despite performing consistently for the English outfit, Dudek lost his starting position to new signing in 2005-06 following an arm injury – going on to make just 12 more appearances for the Reds in the following two seasons. Having not been selected for Poland’s World Cup squad, Dudek stated that he wanted to leave but was persuaded to stay for another year at the manager’s request.
Then 34-year-old Dudek moved to Real Madrid for 2007-08 but only played in two La Liga games due to his role as a back-up ‘keeper to Iker Casillas. His final appearance for the Merengues came on 21 May 2011 in an 8-1 home win over UD Almeria, during which he was substituted in the 77th minute to a guard of honour from his teammates.
After leaving Real Madrid, Dudek played a crucial role in achieving the status of joint host nation for the 2012 European Championships for his home country. Dudek came out of retirement for Poland in 2013, featuring in a game against Liechtenstein.
More recently, however, Dudek completed his first full season in the Volkswagen Castrol Cup in 2014 – a racing championship held around Eastern Europe.
Finnan established himself as the number one right-back for the 2004-05 season, scoring his first and only goal for the Reds against West Brom in the League Cup Final. The Irishman started for Liverpool in Istanbul but a thigh injury meant he was substituted at half-time with the English side 3-0 down to AC Milan.
The 42-year-old regularly played for the Reds during the 05/06 and 06/07 seasons despite competition from Alvaro Arbeloa.
Finnan made a guest appearance in Jamie Carragher’s testimonial match in September 2010 and departed Anfield for Espanyol. However, injuries limited his first-team appearances and in July 2009 Espanyol mutually terminated the remainder of Finnan’s contract. Finnan then signed a one-year contract with Portsmouth but, after the Club was relegated to the Championship and put in administration, he was not offered a new deal.
Since leaving football, Finnan has committed his time to help others. He spent the majority of the early 2010s in Gambia providing irrigation for impoverished children; however, in 2015 Finnan was living in London and working in property development.
Quite easily one of Liverpool’s greatest players, Jamie Carragher continued to play for his hometown club until his retirement at the end of the 2012/13 season, amassing over 700 appearances for the Reds.
He stayed at Liverpool for a further eight seasons, adding another FA Cup title to his name in 2006 and a third League Cup in 2012.
In 2009, Carragher set up the 23 Foundation in order to help the youth of Merseyside. He donated all the proceeds from his testimonial year to the charity, creating an initial fund of £1m.
Since his retirement, Carragher has become a respected pundit for Sky Sports, most commonly featuring on the Monday Night Football programme alongside Gary Neville.
Hyypia made an emotional departure from Anfield in May 2009 as he signed for German side Bayer Leverkusen. Limited chances meant that Hyypia wanted to continue playing, however, he expressed an interest in returning to Merseyside as a coach once his playing career ended.
After one season in Germany, Hyypia announced his retirement from professional football. The Finnish international stepped into coaching for both the national team and Bayer Leverkusen. Hyypia was announced as manager of Brighton & Hove Albion in the Championship but, with the team in the relegation zone, his offer of resignation was accepted. His indifferent coaching career continued in Switzerland with FC Zurich but was sacked towards the end of the season after losing a vote of confidence in the team.
Over a four-year spell at Anfield that ended in 2006, Traore appeared over 100 times for the Merseysiders. Premier League spells with Charlton Athletic (with whom he was sent off on his debut) and Portsmouth followed before spending a brief time in the Championship at Birmingham City.
Further spells at Monaco, Marseille and American outfit Seattle Sounders followed before Traore announced his retirement at the end of the 2014 season. Traore now works for the Sounders as an assistant coach.
Three years after Alonso’s triumph in the Champions League, the Spaniard signed for Real Madrid. During his time at the Spanish giants, Alonso added another Champions League medal to his cabinet despite being ruled out through suspension as Real beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 in extra time. Alonso moved to Bayern Munich in August 2014 but announced his retirement to be at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Nowadays, Alonso is a youth coach at Real Madrid after completing his UEFA Elite coaching course alongside former teammates Raul, Xavi, Victor Valdes and Joan Capdevila in 2018.
The Spaniard left for Atletico Madrid in 2007 and spent two seasons in his home country. Following on from his time with Atletico, Garcia enjoyed spells with Racing Santander, Panathinaikos and Mexican sides Puebla Club Universidad Nacional in 2010.
Garcia announced his retirement in January 2014 but made a brief comeback for newly-formed Indian Super League side Atletico de Kolkata in July 2014.
The Spaniard worked for beIN Sports during their coverage of the 2016 European Championships.
Gerrard remained to be the only player from that night in Istanbul who was still playing at Anfield by 2014/15. After making over 500 appearances for the Reds, Gerrard made his final appearance in a 6-1 defeat of Stoke City. Since leaving Anfield, the Liverpool legend featured for LA Galaxy in America before announcing his retirement in November 2015 aged 36.
Gerrard applied for the vacant managerial position at League One side MK Dons but instead began coaching the youth at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp. In May 2018 Scottish side Rangers announced Gerrard as their manager.
John Arne Riise
The Norwegian missed his penalty against AC Milan but enjoyed seven years at Anfield before signing for Serie A side Roma in 2008. Three years with the Italian outfit were followed by a successful time at Fulham where Arne Riise established himself as a favourite at Craven Cottage.
Arne Riise has since played for Cypriot side APOEL and Indian Super League team Delhi Dynamos before announcing his retirement.
Kewell suffered an injury to his thigh early on and was forced off as early as the 23rd minute against Milan. The Australian left Anfield for Galatasaray in 2008, playing in Turkey for three seasons before returning down under to play for Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart either side of a spell with Qatar’s Al-Gharafa. Kewell announced his retirement in March 2014.
The 40-year-old stepped into coaching with an academy in Australia before taking on a role at Watford. In May 2017 Kewell was appointed head coach of Crawley Town in League Two; however, his impressive form in Sussex lead to him being appointed at Notts County in August 2018 following the departure of Kevin Nolan. Unfortunately for Kewell, he was sacked after fourteen games in charge.
Baros immediately left Anfield for Aston Villa after the infamous night in Istanbul. Further spells with Lyon, Portsmouth and Galatasaray followed; however, the Czech can now be found at Banik Ostrava in his native country of Czechoslovakia.
This article was initially published for Prost International, on December 3, 2018.