We’ll find out in two days whether Liverpool’s quest for European glory ends in success, but there have been many memorable moments on the way.
Back in December was the night that really kicked Liverpool into European action when they hosted Olympiakos in the last group game. Liverpool went into the game knowing they needed to win by two clear goals to through to the knock-out phase. When they went a goal behind mid-way through the first half it looked to be over. The came out for the second half needing to score three goals without reply. Thanks to goals from Pongolle, Mellor and Gerrard, Liverpool got the result they needed and were on their way to Istanbul.
The referee that night was 40-year-old Manuel Enrique Mejuto González from Spain. UEFA today announced that he will be taking charge of Wednesday’s Champions League final when the Reds face AC Milan. When he took charge at Anfield he disallowed a Milan Baros goal, and booked Alonso, Carragher and Gerrard.
Speaking to the official UEFA website – UEFA.com – the Spanish official said, "It is a big joy. When you are a boy, you never think this could happen to you. It is also the prize for many years of work. I’m grateful for the opportunity that has been offered to me, because there are many referees all over the world, and very few have this chance."
The referee has also been in charge of an AC Milan game this season – also on English soil – when they faced Manchester United at Old Trafford. United were beaten 1-0 that night in the first leg of their second-round game against Milan, and lost by the same result in the second leg.
The Spaniard is extremely pleased to have been chosen: "It is already difficult to reach your country’s first division, then to achieve international respect, and finally to belong to this élite that takes part in events such as EURO 2004, and now the Champions League final. I feel proud as a referee, because you know all the referees in the world are watching the game and you are representing them."
The linesmen, as they used to be known, are his compatriates – Oscar Martínez Samaniego and Clemente Ayete Plou – as is the fourth official (Arturo Daudén Ibáñez).