This article by me was first published on This is Anfield website
When we I was asked who I’d most like Liverpool to get in the Champions League draw last Thursday, I could have chosen one of the Spanish giants. I could have talked of wanting to see Ronaldo, Messi or even Luis Suarez’ return to Anfield. I could even have made up some stuff about wanting to see Liverpool tested at the highest level of the competition. I could, but I won’t.
Firstly, what a wonderful place to be – choosing your opponent, from a list of Europe’s elite, is a dream come true. Scratch that, we are one of Europe’s elite this season. Take a moment to savour that.
Why Dortmund? It’s not just that they sing You’ll Never Walk Alone. Imagine a night under the floodlights. Just close your eyes and you’ll hear all four corners of the ground belting it out in full cosmopolitan glory. Soak up the German accents, mixed with the Scouse and the Irish, among others. It’s a heady brew and it would make for a magical night. That’s not it though.
I’m afraid it’s romance for me. It could have been any German team to be honest. You see, when Shanks was making his dream of world domination a reality, I was discovering my first love. I first became properly aware of how special the club were, through their exploits in Europe. I was six when the Reds won their first European trophy.
They beat a team with a weird name (at least it was weird to a six year old Liverpudlian) and lifted the UEFA cup for the first time. It was team that inspired the best banner ever created. It was Borussia Monchengladbach and Joey Jones was munching them.
We met them again in ’77 and I was starting to believe we were the only two clubs in Europe. That was an unbelievable night. I wasn’t one of the supporters on the legendary trains. I watched it on the telly with my whole family, all crammed into a tiny living room.
The next day in school the playground was buzzing. The teachers knew they would get nothing out of us. One of them, in what I now consider a stroke of genius, asked us to write a story. “Imagine you are a player on the team bus coming home from the final”, she said. “Now write about how you feel.” You could hear a pin drop in that classroom, as pencils swept across pages. Unforgettable.
We went on to dominate the continent after that night, but it all got started against a German side. There was a strange feeling of symmetry for me in 2001. We had returned to the big-time after a long absence. We may have face Spanish opposition in that final, but it was in Dortmund. It would have been only be fitting, if German opposition had graced our latest come-back. Oh well we’ll have to make do with Madrid instead.
I think that Liverpool have to be happy with their Champions League group. Sure they have to face the reigning champions but I expect Liverpool to easily dispatch the two other teams in the group. Champions League nights at Anfield are special and I am looking forward to the Madrid match.