Hernan Crespo made himself sit behind photographers after Liverpool won in Istanbul 2 years ago

Hernan Crespo made himself sit behind photographers after Liverpool won in Istanbul

"Some team-mates were crying... Trust me, it was a very difficult night."

Few would have blamed Hernan Crespo for wanting to get out of sight as quickly as he possibly could after Liverpool defeated his AC Milan side on penalties in Istanbul in 2005.

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That, the former Argentina international explained in 2015, had been his first reaction when Jerzy Dudek made the decisive save to deny Andriy Shevchenko's effort in the shoot-out.

But given the nature of the defeat he and his teammates had suffered, he couldn't bring himself to leave the pitch until he was absolutely certain of what had just unfolded.

After Paolo Maldini had given Milan an early lead in the Champions League final, a smartly taken brace by Crespo looked for all the world to have won the game for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

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Liverpool turned the tide after half-time

But a tactical tweak from Rafa Benitez, who brought on Dietmar Hamann in order to free up space in midfield for Steven Gerrard, swung the momentum back in Liverpool's favour.

In six frenetic second-half minutes, Liverpool - with goals from Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso - levelled the scores at 3-3.

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With no further goals in extra-time, Milan buckled under the pressure of the shootout, allowing Liverpool to claim a fifth European crown.

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Crespo admits he was shocked

Reflecting on the game a decade on, Crespo told the Guardian that he believed he was in shock as Milan's defeat was confirmed.

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Though he had initially set off for the dressing room, he made himself stay on the field to convince himself that Liverpool had actually won. Positioning himself behind the photographers, only when he saw Gerrard lift the trophy did he accept it was real.

"I was in shock," Crespo admitted. "When Liverpool scored the last penalty I was about to go to the dressing room, but then I stopped and said to myself: ‘No, it cannot be true that I am going to go and have a shower without having won the Champions League when we were 3-0 up.'

"So I sat down behind the photographers. I had to see with my own eyes that Gerrard was actually going to lift the trophy. I still couldn’t believe it, it didn’t seem real. Impossible.

"When Steven finally lifted it I thought: ‘So it really happened’. And then I went to the dressing room completely speechless."

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The Milan dressing room was "like a funeral"

Understandably, the atmosphere in the Milan dressing room after the game was sombre - a far cry from the reports of the near-celebratory mood there had been at half-time.

"It was like a funeral," Crespo remembers. "They were very difficult moments. Nobody was able to speak even when we returned to the hotel.

"Some team-mates were crying, others were embracing their wives or kids. Trust me, it was a very difficult night."

Crespo confirmed that he had called time on his playing career in November 2012. He never won the Champions League, despite coming so agonisingly close in Istanbul.

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