Written down, they could be the words of a man answering a prank call late at night.
“Hello? Hello? Here we go…”
In a way, perhaps, they were.
It is 25 May 2005. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. Nearly 11pm local time. The man is English commentator Clive Tyldesley, jerked from his figurative slumber as he narrates the Champions League final and, specifically, Steven Gerrard’s 54th-minute headed goal.
And the prankster himself? Well, the cameras just caught him in the act. Look, there he goes, racing back up the field, trying to kid the world that a 3-0 half-time lead for AC Milan somehow does not mean game over.
Because how could it not?
Liverpool should be dead and buried. Sure, they have come to Istanbul rich in history, dripping with the stuff, but their most recent European title dates back to 1984. Their last Premier League crown? Uh… “¿Cómo se dice? Not invented yet?” They’re a blast from the past. Darlings of the romantics. Here to please the teary-eyed uncles, the in-my-day grandads –and they’ve been ripped apart.
So much for their pre-match huddle. Paolo Maldini gave his punchline to that particular gesture after just 53 seconds. And must we recount the rest? Yes, we must. Hernán Crespo stabbing in for 2-0 before his sumptuous second, dinked past Jerzy Dudek after a magical through ball from Kaká, operating on a different plane of mystic vision.
And that’s how it ended, 3-0 to Milan, in some vastly more realistic dimension from which we have now diverged forever. Why? Because a distant butterfly flapped its wings, because Dudek flapped his arms to deny Andriy Shevchenko in extra time, because Dudek flapped his legs to foil Milan in the shoot-out… and perhaps above all – no, definitely above all – because of Steven Gerrard.