We love Didi Hamann around here. He just strikes us as a really great bloke who was blessed with superb football ability, along with a talent for knowing how to celebrate it.
He spoke to author Simon Hughes for the latter's excellent new book Ring of Fire, a book which tells the story of Liverpool in the 21st Century through interviews with ex-players, managers and former CEO Rick Parry. It's a great read, and one of our favourite parts involved Hamann recounting his post-Istanbul experience.
Here is the excerpt from the book, with the context being Hamann's return to the dressing room following the victorious penalty shoot-out. Hamann recalls approaching chairman and owner David Moores, who was known as the only smoker at the club: aside from Hamann.
'David liked Malboro Red cigarettes and they are a it stronger than Lights, let me tell you,' Hamann continues, amused. 'I though to myself, This is the perfect time to sit back, kick back and take it all in. So I said to the chairman, "David, come into my office," and led him by the hand to the showers, which hadn't been turned on yet'.
"David, can I have a cigarette?" I asked him.
'He always called me Kaiser: "Kaiser, what if the manager finds out?" he said, the strain showing even more. "Just tell him you own the fucking club," I told him'.
'Rafa had asked me on his first day in charge about the rumours, whether I smoked. It was best to be honest. "Yes I do, boss". He showed no expression and walked away'.
'David took ages to open the packet because his hands were shaking so much. I think both of us needed a drag to settle us down. We stood there for five minutes in the dry shower saying nothing to each other, me in my full kit and David in his suit'.
'Ash had fallen on the floor'.
'It felt like that cigarette you have after sex'.
Superb. Hamann had his offer of a contract extension withdrawn by Benitez prior to the final, so he had expected Istanbul was his final day as a Liverpool player, so went on the mother of all piss-ups for days afterward. Benitez changed his mind after the final, presumably sung by the fact Hamann's half-time introduction helped swing the final in Liverpool's favour, along with the fact Hamann converted his penalty in the shoot-out despite having a broken foot.
Hamann tells Hughes of a number of other late-night war stories, including confirming one story of his fairly odd method of waving down taxis:
His unusual method was to lie on the tarmac of Castle Street and wait hopefully for a car to spot him and brake.
'This is absolutely true, of course,' Hamann admits.
There's lots more besides in the book, and we recommend you get it, it's full of great stories and insight into a remarkable time in Liverpool's history.
See Also: Andres Iniesta Tells Truly Incredible Story Of How Ronaldinho Prepared For The Clasico In 2005