Former Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann wrote himself into the club’s history books in 2005 when he scored in the 2005 Champions League final penalty shoot-out, but apparently there was one player who was prevented from taking a spot-kick on that fateful night.
As we all know by now, the Reds came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with AC Milan in Istanbul, before beating the Italian giants on penalties and claim the European Cup for the fifth time in their incredible history.
Hamann was outstanding that night, and won plaudits after taking and scoring his penalty with a broken foot, but it seems manager Rafa Benitez wasn’t so enamoured with Spaniard Luis Garcia stepping up from 12 yards.
“That’s going back 10 months (before the Champions League final), our first pre-season tour with him. We were there (in the United States) for about 10 days with him, and on five or six days we had to take three or four penalties each.
“He may have made some notes leading up to the game, but (otherwise) we never practiced.
“He (Benitez) came up to me, and this is all in blur because you’re in the zone and you think, ‘Wow, we’re still here, we should be back home now… we’ve got a chance now’.
“And he came up to me, and he said: ‘You’re taking a penalty’. I just nodded.
“About a minute, two minutes later, he came back to me and said: ‘You take the first one’.
“I think it was pretty much set (the order of penalty takers), because obviously Steven Gerrard would have taken the last one.
“(Djibril) Cissé was a penalty taker, (Vladimír) Šmicer was maybe a bit of a surprise, but he would have volunteered. And (John Arne) Riise was the only one who missed, he would have volunteered.
“Luis Garcia wanted to take one, I found that out afterwards. He (Benitez) said: ‘No, you’re not taking one’.
“I asked to be in the first five, but Rafa [Benitez] didn’t let me. He said I was too tired.”
Of course, Garcia was famed for being one of the club’s flare players, and it seems odd he’d be denied the opportunity of taking a penalty, particularly when he was a striker.
Perhaps it was a stroke of genius by Benitez – but what do you think?