Rafa Benitez reveals his half-time speech to Liverpool ahead of Istanbul comeback

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez

Rafa Benitez has revealed exactly what he said to Liverpool ahead of their famous Champions League comeback.

The Reds were trailing 3-0 to AC Milan at half-time before they clawed their way back into the game - netting three second half goals to take the 2005 final to penalties.

Jerzy Dudek's penalty heroics then sealed the trophy for Liverpool and, ahead of their Champions League final against Real Madrid this weekend, Benitez has opened up on exactly what he said to rally his players.

The current Newcastle boss is largely credited with inspiring the comeback, despite his limited English at the time, and has given an insight into what was said during the interval.

"When we concede the second goal, I was thinking what I had to say, I was making my notes and then we conceded a third," he said.

"And I had to give a speech in English and you know my English now but then, 10 years ago, it was not so good.

"I was thinking about what I would say in English to motivate players because it's not the same as saying something in Spanish. Speaking English you lose something.

"I said, you have to get something back because for 45 minutes we've been working so hard and the main thing was to run through the system and make sure we had everybody ready.

"That was the main thing, that Did Hamann would control the middle and give some freedom to Gerrard, so we had more control because Kaka was playing between the line and we needed to control the space better."

Kaka was just one of the standout players in a star-studded AC Milan side that Benitez considered the best in Europe at that time.

But, despite several of Liverpool's side that night fading into the history books, the Spaniard believes Liverpool were deserved winners.

"Yes, AC Milan was the best team in Europe," he admitted.

"They had Pirlo, they had Kaka and nobody could be better than them. But we were better than them. We beat them.

"Now people don't remember all the players who were there, who were on the pitch that night.

"But they (those players) will always remember. It was massive for everyone.

"The way that we did it...people still think it was just lucky. No.

"The penalties, four or five of them we knew where they were taking the penalties, we had done a lot of work on that.

"We were unlucky at the start of the game because we lost Harry Kewell early (to injury) and we had to change everything. And we were lucky because we scored the goals in a few minutes.

"And we were much better than them in extra time. When we changed to three at the back that changed everything.

"We matched them, we had control of the game."