Thursday, May 26, 2005

Night of the Living Reds

Night of the Living Reds

I'm obviously still in a daze after Liverpool's fantastic triumph in the Champions League final against AC Milan. I don't think one can witness a more remarkable cup final in recent history: 3-0 down at half-time but coming back to level at 3-3 and subsequently winning the match on penalty kicks!

I've been very frustrated with Liverpool's performance in the English Premier League throughout the entire season, but all is forgiven now with this massive cup final victory. It wiped away the disappointment of finishing fifth in the league and gave us back a bit of the pride that we had been accustomed to as Reds supporters in the 70s and 80s.

For a football club, there's no bigger glory than winning the Champions League. To me, it's alright if Liverpool do not play in the Champions League next year because it'll allow them to focus more on the Premier League title--which is the other honour that Liverpool has to win to put Rafael Benitez's team's on par with Liverpool's legendary greats of the past.

Football is such an unpredictable game: often, only a fine line separates victory and defeat. On early Thursday morning Malaysian time, Liverpool looked as if they would have been condemned to the most miserable of defeats. But what a remarkable turnaround it was!

Looking back, it is interesting to see what lessons we could learn from Liverpool's Champions League campaign this season. First of all, belief in oneself. Tackling one thing at a time. Doing your homework before every match. Plus the old-fashioned qualities of hardwork, grit and determination--qualities which manager Rafael Benitez himself set so brilliantly by example. He has become such an inspirational figure to all Liverpool supporters.

We can all learn to apply these lessons in our daily lives. If we keep on trying, we can only improve. To give up is to surrender to degeneration and decay. The road taken by Liverpool to reach victory in the cup final was a long and arduous one. They had to conquer some of the biggest names in European football, like Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, Chelsea and AC Milan along the way. How did they manage to overcome all these incredible hurdles? For a Liverpool team that has been deemed as one of the weakest ever (also no thanks to the long injury list), one would have thought that it was a mission that's close to impossible.

But the impossible was achieved in a night that will be talked about for as long as football is played. It was a night when the Mighty Reds were dead and buried at half-time but by some inexplicable miracle was able to come alive again to conquer their more illustrious Italian opponents and claim the title of European club champions.

It was a night when the dead rose to walk again and walk they did, into Liverpool's glorious hall of fame. And as the strains of Liverpool's anthem rang across the Attaturk stadium, Reds supporters all around the world felt and understood what it really meant to never walk alone again.

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