Former Liverpool defender reveals that Istanbul final left sour taste

Date published: Wednesday 12th September 2018 2:19

LONDON - APRIL 26: Rafael Benitez manager of Liverpool talks to defender Stephen Warnock during the Barclays Premiership match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Upton Park on April 26, 2006 in London, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock has revealed his own personal heartbreak ahead of the 2005 Champions League final.

The night in Istanbul – in which Liverpool overcame a 3-0 deficit against AC Milan to win on penalties – is considered one of the best in the club’s illustrious history.

However, Warnock has revealed that thinking back to that night provokes altogether unhappy memories, ones which changed his opinion of Liverpool Football Club.

“My opinion of the club changed,” the former Reds defender told Goal.

“When I hear Istanbul described as the greatest night in Liverpool’s history, it leaves a bit of a sour taste.

“I was supposed to be in the squad. The squad used to be put up on the board at Melwood, a squad of 18, and a couple of days before Istanbul the squad went up and I’m on the list.

“I’ve never got changed so quickly in my life! I got a shower, got in the car and was on the phone to everyone telling them: ‘I’m going to Istanbul, in the squad for a Champions League final!’ I was over the moon.

“Then about two hours later I get a phone call from Pako [Ayesteran, assistant manager to Rafa Benitez] saying they’d made a mistake on the list, and that Josemi was in instead of me. I couldn’t believe it.”

He continued: “The worst thing for me was it had happened before, earlier in the season. We had been due to play Tottenham at Anfield and I was not on the squad list. I was due to report for training on the Saturday and I went out for a mate’s birthday on the Friday night.

“I got to Melwood, put my boots on to train and the squad arrived for their pre-match walk. Rafa says: ‘What are you doing?’ I told him I was training and he told me I was starting against Tottenham!

“I had to tell him I’d been out the previous night and he kicked off at me, saying I was unprofessional. We had a disagreement and I ended up on the bench against Tottenham. So for the same situation to arise with Istanbul, but obviously in a far bigger game, was so frustrating.”


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