Liverpool FC are a glorious football club. They are, despite what their recent product might suggest, one of the most storied and romantic football clubs in all of the world. Before today’s side’s feeble defending and erratic finishing existed a side with legends in their dressing room. Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard. And to this day, despite the club’s current struggles, there is always hope that Liverpool will return to their Golden Age. It is nights like the ones Liverpool fans all over the world experienced in the 2004-2005 season that will always give us belief that Liverpool are never down and out.
The 2004-2005 Champions League campaign encapsulated all that is right with Liverpool, and, on an even larger scale, all that is right with soccer. It all started on a brisk night in Liverpool in December, in group stage game 6 against Olympiakos of Greece. Ironically, it was also almost the night that it ended, as Olympiakos took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, leaving Liverpool needing three goals in the second half in order to make it into the knockout stages. Two second half substitutes scored for Liverpool to make it 2-1, and in the dying stages of the game, Liverpool continued to huff and puff at the Olympiakos goal, but they could not blow the door down. That all changed in one iconic moment in the 86th minute.
As Liverpool threw all of their men forward, the ball found the feet of Jamie Carragher. Carragher twisted and turned and launched a hopeful ball towards the box. Liverpool were running out of ideas. They needed something, anything. The ball found the head of Neil Mellor, who had scored the second goal of the game (and, as it turns out, his last goal ever in a Liverpool shirt). Mellor flicked the ball back towards the edge of the box. It was, as legendary duo Martin Tyler and Andy Gray called it, a “lovely cushioned header,” and his header found the impeccable right foot of Steven Gerrard. From 25 yards out, Gerrard thumped the ball with great pace into the bottom right corner of the net, and subsequently sent Liverpool into the Champions League knockout stages. “You beauty!” Andy Gray shouted over the roar of the Liverpool crowd. “What a hit son! What a hit!” Tyler and Gray’s commentating on the goal is, to this day, one of the most memorable announcing moments in soccer history. “You’d take a tap-in in these circumstances,” Tyler explained. “But what you have seen, is a Champions League strike as good as anything the competition has produced!” he concluded.
The strike sent the Anfield crowd into raptures, and Liverpool went on to secure the 3-1 victory and move into the knockout stages. As brilliant as that night was, things only got better for Liverpool. On an even larger stage, in the Champions League Final later that year, Liverpool came back from down 3-0 to AC Milan at halftime to draw level at 3-3, and they went on to win the competition in penalties and lift the European trophy. In many ways, Gerrard’s goal and the subsequent results serve as a microcosm for the “Liverpool Way.” The fans will never give up on the team, simply because the players will never give up on the team. This is why, even in times of hardship, like these days are for Liverpool, there is always belief that glorious times and memories are right around the corner.