Still hunted over 'ghost goal'
Our writer catches up with former Liverpool winger LUIS GARCIA, who was in Bangkok with the Reds
The Kop still sing your song after so many years and that must make you feel special?
Garcia: My first season at Liverpool was very successful, we enjoyed a very good time and had a chance to play two finals.
I feel very proud to have the crowd sing my song. (See above).
Every time I watch the game (on TV), I can hear the song. It's something very special.
Liverpool treat us like family. That's what I felt from the first moment. I will keep supporting Liverpool.
Ten years on from that magical night in Istanbul, what do you recall from the game?
It was a special night for all the supporters around the world.
Not because we won the Champions League final, but because it was one of the best finals in the history of football. That probably won't happen again.
There were many new players. We were waiting for something very special.
You dream of something like that as a player. But you don't expect to arrive at a final, lose three goals in 45 minutes and still get that trophy.
We will talk about this for many, many more years.
What went through your head during half-time (when Liverpool trailed AC Milan 3-0)?
Not many good things, really. We arrived there thinking that we had been working so hard the last few months and suddenly one minute, we conceded a goal. So, everything changed.
We were thinking, "okay what can we do now?", because what we didn't want was 45,000 or 50,000 people inside and outside the stadium feeling that they didn't deserve that.
Truly, it wasn't easy to get to the final. We met big teams along the way like Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen, and at that moment, we didn't want to let the fans down.
We thought about going out to do our very best (in the second half) and to clean up what happened in the first 45 minutes.
So, really, was that a legitimate goal against Chelsea in the semi-finals of the 2004/05 Champions League?
It happens to me everywhere. Everywhere I go, the first thing people ask me is " was that a goal"? So yes, it was a goal, that's the first thing.
Can you tell us exactly how good Steven Gerrard is?
Not only as a player, but also for us on the pitch, we expect anything from him, any moment.
It doesn't matter what kind of game or what team. He was always giving 100 per cent.
At the end, you need that player, that captain to follow, and he was the leader all the time and our hero.
He was a very important person in the dressing room because we had very bad moments. Whether we won the FA Cup or the Champions League, there were so many bad moments and he was always there to give positive words.
Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
Messi, because he was from the academy of Barcelona and I am a big fan of his. I would say, always Messi. He is one of the best players in history.
Do you think this Liverpool team are good enough for a good season ahead, and can even finish in the top two?
The thing is, to think we have to finish in the top two is not the right way.
First of all, there are so many young players, this will put a lot of pressure on them.
We have a very good team. The club are probably working to bring in more players.
Honestly, I like the way the team are looking this year. Some of the young players are hungry to show things in the Premier League.
And that's a very important thing. I felt the same thing in 2005 and 2006, when we were young and nobody expected anything from us.
We can do something very good but we have to take the pressure off the young players.
Have you considered going into coaching?
Not right now, my mind still thinks like a player.
I'm not thinking about coaching, but if I were to do that, I will do my badges first, because it is very important for a player to see how a manager sees football, in a different way.
I also work for Liverpool (as an ambassador), and on TV as a pundit.
Now, I just try to enjoy time with my family. We've been travelling a lot.
Are you officially retired?
I think so. But I said that one year ago, and look what happened, I went to India to play (for Atletico Kolkata last year).
It's not on my mind right now. I have a few plans in the future and I would like to keep it.
How long do you think it will take for the Spain national team to regain their glory days?
Hopefully, not too long.
The last World Cup was a big disappointment. The team didn't reach the level they were playing at over the last few years, but also we expected that because it was not easy to maintain that level for so many years, when Spain were the team to beat.
Right now, we are in the way of changing.
Some new players have come in. Players like Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa are difficult players to replace.
I see talent in the current team. Hopefully, next year in the European Championship and three years later at the World Cup, we are going to have a strong squad.
Name one Liverpool player to watch next season.
There are a few I am expecting to see a lot of. If I have to say one, the way they played last year, then it will be Jordon Ibe.
It's not about replacing Raheem Sterling. He has his own talent. I like him very much.
"Luis Garcia He drinks sangria He comes from Barca To bring us glory He's five foot seven He's football heaven So please don't take our Garcia away."
- The Kop's tribute to Luis Garcia, sung to the tune of You Are My Sunshine. This song is still heard during games at Anfield although the Spaniard had left in 2007
"It happens to me everywhere... the first thing people ask me is ‘Was that a goal’? So yes, it was a goal."
- Luis Garcia (in red), scoring the controversial winner in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea in the second leg of the 2005 Champions League semifinals. William Gallas (far left) later appears to clear the ball off the line, but the linesman flags for goal.
Kovacic says ‘no’ to Liverpool
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers may have more in the warchest after Raheem Sterling’s £44 million ($93m) move to Manchester City, however he is unlikely to be spending it on long-time target Mateo Kovacic.
The 21-year-old Inter Milan midfielder, who was initially noncommital on links to the Reds, has squashed talks of a move.
“I want to stay here. I will not move,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The relationship between Inter and me will be a long one.
“Whether there have been offers from the Reds is not for me to say... Having said that, I repeat: I want to stay here.”
- Wire Services.
Khedira: Juventus on same level as Real
Germany international midfielder Sami Khedira has likened his new team Juventus to his former side Real Madrid after being presented to the Italian media yesterday.
The 28-year-old, who joined from the Spanish giants on a free transfer, said: “As you know, I’ve come from Real Madrid, and there aren’t many clubs in the world which are on the same level.”
The World Cup winner also insisted that he is not afraid of comparisons to Andrea Pirlo, who has left the Old Lady to join Major League Soccer side New York City FC after four successful seasons.
- Wire Services.
Xavi blasts Real’s treatment of Casillas
Former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez hit out at Real Madrid for the “lame” way they handled the exit of their star goalkeeper and his friend Iker Casillas.
“To me, his departure from Real Madrid stinks. It’s a pity. It seems lame,” Xavi wrote in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.
Casillas, 34, announced his decision to leave for Portuguese side FC Porto after 25 years with his boyhood club in a tearful solitary press conference on Sunday.