Rafa Benitez reveals what he said at half-time in Istanbul Champions League final

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has revealed what he told Liverpool players at half-time during the iconic Champions League final against Milan in Istanbul.

In the most miraculous match in Champions League history, the Reds overturned a three-goal half-time deficit against Carlo Ancelotti's Milan in 2005, going on to win the final on penalties after Jerzy Dudek's heroics in the shootout

A very early goal from Paolo Maldini had put Benitez's Liverpool on the backfoot, with Hernan Crespo grabbing a brace before the break.

It looked as if Liverpool's chance at a fifth European Cup triumph was going to pass them by, but the Reds staged a remarkable six-minute comeback to level the scores early in the second-half.

Goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso made it 3-3 with half-an-hour of normal time remaining, with the game going all the way to penalties after a tense extra-time period.

Serginho skied his penalty for Milan in the shootout, before Liverpool goalkeeper Dudek produced saves from Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko to crown the Reds champions of Europe.

It remains an iconic night in Champions League history and one that will never escape Benitez in interviews.

Speaking to Diario AS, the Spaniard revealed once more what he said to his Liverpool players at half-time to inspire such an unbelievable turnaround against Milan.

"My level of English was basic," said Benitez. "I'll put it in context: I was in training, it was very windy and I wanted to tell Gerrard to be careful with the wind, but I mispronounced it and told him to be careful with the wine.

"So, with 2-0, I was writing down in my notebook what I wanted to say at half-time to give the speech well, with good pronunciation to motivate the kids. And that's when we conceded the third goal.

"I tell them that we have nothing to lose and that we should not bow our heads. In a few minutes we tied and everything changed, it was crazy."

When asked if he felt positive about Liverpool's chances of overturning the deficit, he replied: "Of course not. I was confident, but not that confident."

Milan did get revenge on the Reds, beating them 2-1 in the Champions League final two years later. In the end, Benitez won just two major trophies during his six years at Anfield, adding the FA Cup in 2006 to his European triumph the year before.

While Benitez remains a largely popular figure among Liverpool supporters for that fabled night in Istanbul, the now Celta Vigo manager did burn some bridges when he took charge of Merseyside rivals Everton in 2021.

Speaking on his decision to join the Toffees, Benitez stated: "I have a lot of friends who are from Everton and I knew what I needed. It was a chance to be with family. The problem is that after three years of bypassing financial control, we were only able to spend £1.7 million that year.

"Of course I came to doubt [the move] for sentimental reasons, you think about it a lot, but it was the possibility of making a team grow and many years had passed since my time at Liverpool."

Benitez lasted less than a season before being sacked at Goodison Park, bringing an end to his time on Merseyside for good. Given how badly things went across Stanley Park, the 63-year-old may have quickly come to regret his decision to join Everton.

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