Steven Gerrard was emotional after Liverpool’s famous victory in Istanbul last night. By the time of the official press conference after the match he was a little calmer, but still dropped the biggest hint yet that he wants to be wearing that famous red shirt again next season. It was inevitable that he’d be asked about his future, and when he was he answered: "How could I leave after a night like that? It was the greatest of my life and talks will begin soon. My form has been a bit hot and cold this season but you’ll see a different Steven Gerrard next season."
Gerrard was committed 100% for the full game, even more so for the latter stages where he played as a right wing-back. This was part of the excellent tactics employed by boss Rafa Benitez that led to Liverpool’s victory against all the odds: "We were outclassed in the first half. AC controlled it and we went in at the break with our heads down. But the manager made changes and instilled belief back into the players."
When Liverpool came out for the second half, most people perhaps thought the best they could hope for was to maybe go home with a scoreline of 3-1 or 3-2. Even Gerrard felt that would be the best they could achieve: "We came back out were just determined to make the scoreline respectable for our fans. I know they have been saving up for weeks for this trip. It was reported that we’d have 20,000 fans out here but there was much more than that. They are unbelievable and I dedicate this victory to them."
Liverpool were looking exhausted by the end – very much like they were in the Carling Cup final at Cardiff in February. Gerrard felt the hurt of defeat that day though, as did a lot of the others on duty last night, and was determined they would not conced any more: "We were a different team in the second half but by extra time we were running on empty and I’ll admit were playing for penalties at the end."
Liverpool’s Champions League run has included victories over the current champions of both England (Chelsea) and Italy (Juventus), and Gerrard says that this proves Liverpool are up their with the greats of Anfield past: "We’ve beaten some magnificent teams in this competition this season and no-one can take what we’ve achieved away from us. I didn’t think we could go all the way but as we’ve shown before this season, we are never beaten."
UEFA will now be under immense pressure to let Liverpool defend the trophy next season, but for now Liverpool and their fans are just pleased that the famous trophy is theirs for keeps. Gerrard had a message for UEFA though: "I just hope UEFA allow us to play in it again next season. It’s called the Champions League and so the Champions should be in it."