Reds Rejoice - it's the 25th of May!
Rome '77 or Istanbul '05 - it's our Special Day.
Two of the most exciting chapters in the long illustrious history of Liverpool FC took place on this same magical day - the 25th of May. One or the other will be on top of the ‘Best Ever’ list for every fan who was there. I was at both. Which was the best ever? Hmm, tricky.
I and the Mighty Reds (and about 30,000 others) lost our European Champions virginity in Rome’s Olympic Stadium on May 25th 1977, and they say you always remember your first time. Rome will always be our first love, always special. We even went back there to win it again in ‘84. The images are still fresh in super-colour in my mind. I thought nothing could ever surpass it, or even get close, and I did all the other finals too (I’m that sort of age).
They may be occasions of incomparable joy, but circumstances going into the two games were incomparable too. They could scarcely have been more different. In ’77, we were indisputably top of the pile. Having dominated the domestic scene and won two UEFA Cups earlier in the 1970s (including the previous year’s), we were aching to put the final seal on our ascent to the very pinnacle, not just in England but in Europe. We wanted so badly to be called ‘champions of Europe’, to get that final seal of confirmation. Manchester United were the only English team to have been European champions so far, in 1968, though Celtic had done it a year earlier.
In ‘77 we’d retained our league title, reachednthe European Cup final, then somehow lost the FA Cup Final to Utd with the flukiest goal ever to win an FA Cup Final, when a shot heading for the corner flag struck a colleague who was trying to get out of the sodding way and looped over Ray Clemence and into the net (incidentally depriving us of the ‘genuine treble’ that they won in 1999.)
Only four days after that potentially disastrous blow we were in Rome for our first European Cup Final. Those songs about it had already been belted out of the Kop for weeks.
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