Class of Istanbul – Where are they now?

25-05-2005. The day that Rafael Benitez and his Liverpool side wrote themselves into Kop legend by securing a Champions League Final penalty shoot-out victory over AC Milan to bring “ol’ big ears” home for the fifth time. It is a day that no Liverpool fan will ever forget. At 3-0 down at half time things seemed desperate, but the comeback that followed is football folklore and we went on to take the victory after a tense extra time and penalty shootout. But where are they now? Only Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher remain at the club so a lot has changed since 2005 so let’s take a look at where the players we owe that historic night to are now:

1. Jerzy Dudek (38) – Real Madrid
Dudek is one man who will most definitely never be forgotten for his performance in Istanbul. His double save in extra-time from Andriy Shevchenko was sensational and could only be matched minutes later when he replicated the “Spaghetti Legs” of Bruce Grobbelaar from the 1984 European Cup Final. After the arrival of Pepe Reina he found himself no.2 and only made 12 more appearances over the next two seasons before he moved to Real Madrid. He has only gone on to be an understudy for Real of course due to the presence of Iker Casillas and was most recently in the news for the role he played in the controversial sending’s off of Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso in the Champions League against Ajax.

3. Steve Finnan (34) – Unattached
Finnan went on to make over 200 appearances for the reds as an extremely solid right back and was involved in the FA Cup winning team of 2006. He moved to Espanyol on September 1st 2008 where he signed a two year deal there but unfortunately after an injury ravaged season his contract was mutually terminated. He then joined Portsmouth where he made 21 Premier League appearances in their relegation year. His last appearance for the club came in the FA Cup final where they were defeated by Chelsea. His contract was not renewed due to Pompeys financial situation and Steve has yet to join another club.

23. Jamie Carragher (33) – Liverpool
Jamie is one of the two players still at the club. He is the current vice captain and was also part of the FA Cup winning side of 2006. Carra has played over 600 times for Liverpool and has appeared in over 50 games in 9 of the last two seasons.

4. Sami Hyypia (37) – Bayer Leverkusen
Sami is a cult hero around Anfield after a 10 season stay also saw him pick up 10 winners medals. He made 151 appearances after Istanbul before he received a hero’s farewell as he went to Bayer Leverkusen. He was a regular in his first season in Germany and has made 18 appearances so far this season.

21. Djimi Traore (31) – AS Monaco
Djimi is a player whom a lot of Liverpool fans don’t possess fond memories of. He spent another season here after 2005 but struggled to break into the side ahead of Stephen Warnock and John Arne Riise. He left in 2006 and after spells with Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth and Birmingham he signed for Monaco on a free transfer. He established himself well in his first season making 30 appearances but this season he has only managed 7 appearances thus far.

14. Xabi Alonso (29) – Real Madrid
2004-2005 was his first season at the club and he went on to prove what a quality player he was in the 4 seasons he spent at the club. He amassed 210 appearances and will be remembered for scoring a number of goals from around the half way line. He joined Real Madrid for £30 million in 2009 and has been a first team regular there since. He was also involved in the Spain teams which won the European Championships and the World Cup. Xabi still maintains a great mutual respect with the Liverpool fans.

10. Luis Garcia (32) – Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos is Luis third club since leaving Liverpool. He first went to Atletico Madrid at the same time Fernando Torres went the opposite direction. Despite making 30 appearances he mainly acted as cover for Simao. The next season he fell out of favour and often didn’t even make the match day squad so he set off for Racing Santander where he failed to find the net in his 15 appearances for the club. He signed a one year deal in the summer with Greek side Panathinaikos. He also made a welcome return to a Liverpool shirt for one day only for the testimonial of Jamie Carragher win September where he found the net and was also well received by the fans.

8. Steven Gerrard (30) – Liverpool
Steven is the other player, as well as Carra, who is still at the club. He was the captain on that night in Turkey and is still the captain today. The FA Cup final which Liverpool won the next year was dubbed the “Gerrard Final” as he pulled Liverpool from the brink of defeat. He also captained England during this summer’s FIFA World Cup.

6. John Arne Riise (30) – Roma
John missed his penalty in the shootout in Istanbul however the following year he showed the character to step up and take another penalty in the FA Cup final shoot out against West Ham in Cardiff. In the 2007-2008 he found himself dislodged from his left back role by Fabio Aurelio and in the summer of 2008 he departed for Roma. He has nailed down the left full spot at Roma and has made over 100 appearances for the Italian side.

7. Harry Kewell (32) – Galatasaray
Injury plagued his Liverpool career and he failed to string together a series of performances after 2005/2006. He eventually left for Turkey in 2008 and since then has enjoyed more luck and made a total of 63 appearances in two and a half years.

5 .Milan Baros (29) – Glatasaray
The final was his last start for Liverpool before he set off for Aston Villa. After an unsuccessful spell with Villa he joined up with former manager Gerard Houllier at Lyon for another unsuccessful spell. He then spent six months at Portsmouth where he failed to score in any of his appearances but did win the FA Cup. He has enjoyed a better time in Turkey finding the net 53 times so far for Galatasaray.

16. Dietmar Hamann (37) – Leicester City
Didi came off the bench in Istanbul and changed the face of the game. He scored the first penalties in the shootouts in Istanbul and in Cardiff the following year. Since then he moved to City where he spent 3 seasons. He later became player/coach at MK Dons but left in February to become first time coach at Leicester City.

11. Vladimir Smicer (37) – Retired
Vladi, one of our Istanbul goal scorers, moved Bordeaux after the Champions League victory. The very next season Liverpool and Bordeaux were drawn together in the Champions League unfortunately however injury caused him to miss both games. He missed a year of football due to a bad knee injury and at one point considered retiring. He returned to Slavia Prague in 2007 to the joy of their fans and helped them win their first Czech League title after 12 years. He retired from football after that season.

9. Djibril Ciise (29) – Panathinaikos
Ciise came on with 5 mins remaining in normal time in Istanbul and also scored in the FA Cup final victory of 2006. His Liverpool career never worked out though and he joined Marseille in 06. Between then and now he has also spent a year on loan at Sunderland. In 2009/2010 he was the Greek League top goal scorer as Panathinaikos won the double. His goals have seen him become a big player in Greece and have also seen him adored by Panathinaikos fans.

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