Didi Hamann reveals who Rafa Benitez wouldn't let take a penalty in the 2005 Champions League final
"Rafa said: 'No, you're not taking one'."
Didi Hamann has been talking about that famous night in Istanbul 12 years ago, when Liverpool came from three goals down against AC Milan to win the Champions League final on penalties.
The 2005 Liverpool team are inevitably still asked about the famous comeback. For most, it was the pinnacle of their careers and an astounding turnaround against what was an incredible Milan team.
Hamann's introduction is credited with helping change the game in Liverpool's favour. The German midfielder slotted into central midfield alongside Xabi Alonso, allowing Steven Gerrard to play further forward.
Hamann also scored Liverpool's first penalty in the shoot-out, the first time they were ahead on the night, as Milan shot first and Serginho missed his penalty.
The former Bayern Munich and Manchester City midfielder has been discussing Rafa Benitez's approach to the penalty shootout, and how he decided on the penalty takers.
"He gave the best captain’s speech I ever heard in my career" https://t.co/KYmU3tUKdO
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Hamann said that Benitez only made the team practice penalties in pre-season the previous year, when he replaced Gerard Houllier as manager.
"We only practiced (penalties) in pre-season," Hamann said on Eamon Dunphy's podcast The Stand.
"That's going back 10 months (before the Champions League final), our first pre-season tour with him. We were there (in the United States) for about 10 days with him, and on five or six days we had to take three or four penalties each.
"He may have made some notes leading up to the game, but (otherwise) we never practiced.
When it came to the shootout against Milan, Benitez was meticulous in his approach. He decided the penalty takers, and the order they would shoot, which meant being blunt with one Liverpool midfielder.
"He (Benitez) came up to me, and this is all in blur because you're in the zone and you think, 'Wow, we're still here, we should be back home now... we've got a chance now'," Hamann said.
"And he came up to me, and he said: 'You're taking a penalty'. I just nodded.
"About a minute, two minutes later, he came back to me and said: 'You take the first one'.
"I think it was pretty much set (the order of penalty takers), because obviously Steven Gerrard would have taken the last one.
"(Djibril) Cissé was a penalty taker, (Vladimír) Šmicer was maybe a bit of a surprise, but he would have volunteered. And (John Arne) Riise was the only one who missed, he would have volunteered.
"Luis Garcia wanted to take one, I found that out afterwards. He (Benitez) said: 'No, you're not taking one'."
In an interview with Bleacher Report, Luis Garcia admitted that Rafa didn't let him take a penalty, but said he was in line to take the first sudden death spot kick.
"Yes, I asked to be in the first five, but Rafa [Benitez] didn’t let me. He said I was too tired," Garcia said.
Liverpool didn't even need five penalties to win it. Milan missed three of their kicks, and Jerzy Dudek saved Andriy Shevchenko's decisive penalty.
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