25 of our favourite photos from the Miracle of Istanbul

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On this day 15 years ago, Liverpool completed the “greatest comeback in sport” to clinch their fifth European Cup on an evening full of miracles.

There are particular events where the memory of exactly where you were and what you were doing are crystal clear, preserved over time as though it happened merely days ago – and this is one of them.

Those who witnessed the Miracle of Istanbul on May 25, 2005 can catalogue the range of emotions from the devastation as Rafa Benitez’s men first fell three goals behind to the euphoria of striking back within six jaw-dropping minutes with absolute clarity.

Not to mention the cold sweat hit as the game agonisingly ticked into extra-time and then penalties, with Jerzy Dudek’s denial of Andriy Shevchenko releasing a collective sense of catharsis as the club’s fifth European Cup was sealed 21 years after the fourth.

What occurred at the Ataturk Stadium against an AC Milan side littered with bona fide world-beaters was nothing short of a miracle on grass, and it is a day which was instantly immortalised in Liverpool and football history.

And to relive the day and commemorate the Miracle of Istanbul we have selected 25 of our favourite images from the occasion.

Over 30,000 Liverpool fans descended on Istanbul decked in red and white, with songs and banners aplenty as the Reds made their first appearance in a European Cup final since 1985.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool fans during the UEFA Champions League Final Liverpool against AC Milan at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And they witnessed this side defy all odds in what is surely the greatest European Cup final of all time as after falling 3-0 down on the cusp of half-time, Benitez’s men had something to say about it.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's team lines up before the the UEFA Champions League Final against AC Milan at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)..Back row L-R: Djimi Traore, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypia, Jerzy Dudek, Jamie Carragher, Harry Kewell. Front row L-R: Steve Finnan, Milan Baros, Luis Garcia, Steven Gerrard, John Arne Riise.

First it was Steven Gerrard, who was the game’s official Man of the Match, in what quickly became an iconic image and showed the traits which defined his career at Anfield.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the first come-back goal against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And then in the blink of an eye, the scoreboard read 3-3 as Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso found the net to send Reds across the world into euphoria.

The emotion on the players’ faces here says it all.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Vladimir Smicer celebrates scoring the second goal against AC Milan with his team mate Jamie Carragher during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Xabi Alonso celebrates scoring the equaliser from the re-bounded penalty kick with Milan Baros (L) during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Then came a stifling sense of trepidation as the game ticked into extra-time, with cramp taking over the players and the pressure building – only for Dudek to make a stunning double save to deny Shevchenko, foreshadowing what was to come.

He conjured up moves of old as Bruce Grobbelaar’s ‘spaghetti legs’ made another appearance in a European Cup final – with the result again going Liverpool’s way.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko sees his shot saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek saves the last penalty to win the European Cup against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek celebrates saving the last penalty to win the European Cup against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek celebrates saving the last penalty to win the European Cup against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s impossible not to smile when you see the outpouring of every emotion under the sun as the Reds piled on Dudek and started their celebrations which would go long into the night.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with Jamie Carragher after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Djimi Traore celebrates after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates with Xabi Alonso after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Then came the moment we had all waited for, and it did not disappoint.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Jerzy Dudek celebrates saving the last penalty to win the European Cup against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard lifts the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The fifth European Cup was paraded around the stadium much to the delight of the Liverpool fans who had lived and breathed every moment with the players.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's John Arne Riise and Vladimir Smicer lift the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool players celebrate winning the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Gerrard later revealed that: “I slept with the cup in my hotel room. I did not want it out of my sight.” And who could blame him?

You really could look at these images all day and never feel anything but utter joy.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's players walk off with the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and manager Rafael Benitez celebrate with the trophy, Istanbul, 25.05.2005 ( Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport)

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates victory with The UEFA Champions League Trophy, Istanbul 2005 (PA Images)

The parade was a sight to behold in its own right with a red sea welcoming Benitez’s men at every turn as the European Cup returned to Anfield after 21 years.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - THURSDAY, MAY 26th, 2005: Liverpool's Czech players Vladimir Smicer (L) and Milan Baros (R)parade the European Champions Cup on on open-top bus tour of Liverpool in front of 500,000 fans after beating AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - THURSDAY, MAY 26th, 2005: Liverpool players parade the European Champions Cup on on open-top bus tour of Liverpool in front of 500,000 fans after beating AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s incredible to think that this day was 15 years ago, but no matter how much time passes the feat this team accomplished is one which will never be forgotten or see its significance wane.

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