Football

Rafa Benitez Reveals Steve Finnan's Champions League Frustration In '05

It remains one of the most remarkable games in the history of European football; Liverpool's 2005 Champions League win against AC Milan in Istanbul.

Trailing 3-0 at half time, Liverpool had looked well and truly hammered by a Milan side featuring such players as Andrea Pirlo, Hernan Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko and many, many more.

With Milan already content that they had secured their second Champions League title in 3 years, Liverpool roused themselves to generate the most almighty of comebacks.

Through Steven Gerard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso, Liverpool had dragged back a three-goal deficit in 15 second-half minutes.

In his first year as Liverpool manager, and with as yet a relatively basic command of the English language, what Rafa Benitez did or did not say at half-time has become the stuff of legend.

Speaking with the The Times recently, he discussed the manner in which Milan's third goal of the first-half went in as he was preparing his notes for a half-time talk for what had already appeared a lost cause.

Opting for a tactical change that would see Liverpool move from two central defenders to three, it had been Benitez's intention to take Djimi Traore off, moving Ireland's Steve Finnan in alongside Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia.

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However, as Benitez recalls, Finnan was in a spot of bother:

I went to the physio and he was working with Finnan, and I said, 'what is going on?' We had already made one substitution because Harry Kewell came off after 20 minutes because of injury, and now I have Didi Hamann ready to come on.

Then the physio says, 'I don't think [Finnan] can play another 45 minutes. You have to make a substitution.'

And Finnan was watching him, like, 'I will kill him!' I had already told Djimi Traore that he could go to the shower.

So I have to say Djimi come back, Finnan go to the shower. He wanted to kill the physio.

A shocking end to Finnan's Champions League final, the Limerick man had been a near-constant presence in Liverpool's run to that point.

Fortunately, despite his frustrations, Liverpool got the game won.

You can listen to the entire interview with Benitez here.

See Also: 'It's Too Late' - Roy Hodgson Doesn't Want Allardyce Apology






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