Liverpool’s French defender Djimi Traore admitted that the sounds of Milan players celebrating victory in the Champions League final outside the dressing room at half- time spurred the Anfield men on to their Istanbul heroics.
AC Milan had out-played a deflated Liverpool side in the first half at the Ataturk Stadium and were cruising to victory at 3-0 ahead, or so they thought.
But when Liverpool had to listen to the goading and celebrations right outside their dressing room door, it was the turning point on an amazing night in Turkey for Liverpool and their 40,000-plus supporters.
Traore could not have had a worse start to the match, conceding the first minute free-kick that cost Liverpool the opening goal and set the tone for a miserable first half.
But Traore, who almost joined Everton in pre-season and is again a Goodison Park target, believes the sound of the Italian side’s celebrations really wound up the Liverpool side.
He said: “Honestly, when I sat listening to the manager at half-time I did not really believe we could do it. Against Milan even less, they are great players.
“But when we were back in the dressing room the Milan players were outside already celebrating that they were champions, celebrating the victory. That really got to us and gave us the hunger to come back at them.
“Once we scored the first one they were scared, and they fell back. When we brought Didi (Hamann) on it gave us a lot of experience in midfield and it really disrupted them. I think he is good for the team and I hope that he stays at Liverpool next season.”
Traore added: “It is just unbelievable for me, to think we were 3-0 down at half-time. But when we got back into the dressing room the manager told us we could still do it if we scored in the first five minutes. He said if we did that we could keep scoring and they would wilt.
“And we had people like Gerrard and (Jamie) Carragher for keeping us going, and we have to say thank you to Jerzy Dudek.
“The two wonderful saves right at the end from (Andriy) Shevchenko were the key, and then when he saved a penalty and made their men miss a couple he can be very happy as we all can with being champions.”
Traore now wants to stay at Liverpool for the rest of his career, but insists they have had luck on their side.
He said: “We have had some luck, we have had that fortune all the way through. In the early rounds, then against Olympiacos, it has just been on our side.
“There was a lot of lads who have contributed along the way who were injured and couldn’t be involved, Flo (Florent Sinama-Pongolle) and Neil (Mellor) have both played their part and we may not have been here but for what they had done in the very early round.
“As for me I want to continue to play for Liverpool for the rest of my career. I have no doubt about that. Now we are going to celebrate for five days, there will be a party in Liverpool and then one in Paris, these are great times.”