Ethan Golding explains how The Miracle of Istanbul transformed his support for Liverpool Football Club as a young boy.
One Night In Istanbul. This is a phrase that we as Liverpool supporters never seem to tire of.
There are seemingly endless stories about that night and no matter how many we have heard, told or read, we crave more.
Other teams’ fans accuse us of being trapped in the past but we don’t mind, there are worse things to cling to as a fan; the glory of putting the pressure on or worse, not having a past to be trapped in.
It’s easy for us to look at that magical night and forget about the flaws – that squad wasn’t exactly special bar the odd local lad and a strapping young Spaniard – but we do. We look back on that night, not through rose tinted glasses but Shankly Red Spectacles.
I was 9 years old when we won it for the 5th time. I had already been a Red prior to Istanbul, with fuzzy memories of FA and League Cup Glory filling my head.
In all honesty though, to this day I have no real explanation as to why I love this Club, my father and I being the only members of my family who understand the game and he being of the old guard; a Leeds Utd fan.
Reasons or no, Liverpool was my club and they were playing in the most important game that had ever existed and the possibility of it not ending with Scouse hands on the cup seemed impossible.
As I’ve said, mine is not a sporting family. Things like music, art and literature have always taken precedence amongst my siblings and mother, and in all honesty with myself also.
Ask me either side of the 90 minutes that Liverpool are kicking a ball around and I’ll tell you it’s just a game, tell me that 30 minutes in and I will eat you.
While I found common ground with the rest of my family through the arts, like so many others the common ground between myself and my father was football.
And so on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, together we would sit and watch the top teams across Europe do battle for Football’s greatest club prize (always in the backroom except for finals when we would invade the front room).
I would try to convince him who the best players were based on my vast knowledge of FIFA and he would try to convince me of how one of the two old men who spoke at halftime was one of the toughest midfielders either Leeds or English football had ever seen while the other could do anything with a football, in Arsenal Red or the Black and White of Juventus.
My father had watched the great Empire of Leeds Utd begin to crumble while I, as far as I was concerned, witnessed the rise of Liverpool’s.
It was not until I was a little older that I realised what Istanbul truly meant and how it was part of an already existing tapestry of glory.
It was this naivety that leads to snot, tears and a 9-year-old’s decision to go into the other room and tell Mam that the worst thing that could ever happen was happening.
I have and will always be a stubborn person, so when I heard my father’s first two jubilations I refused to let myself be sucked back in. “3-0 is a final score. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t score 3 goals, football doesn’t work like that”. Since then I’ve learned that football cares not for mortal expectation.
The news of a penalty was enough to pull me back in and the man who would take it would go on to be my favourite player of all time and although now I could give a more nuanced reason, perhaps it is simply the gratitude of a small boy that elevated him to his hero status.
Expectation, Despair, Elation. Three emotions, three touches of a ball. I don’t remember anything between the 60th minute and the shootout, I don’t remember too much of that either, but I do remember a German scoring a penalty (what else is new), I remember rubber legs and an almighty left hand. More tears.
We talk so much about that One Night In Istanbul because it was so much more than that. It was one night in Dublin, one night in Liverpool, one night in Perth. That one night lives in the memories of all that witnessed it. It was a night of magic, a night of passion, of faith.
It was a night that altered football history and a moment that every fan regardless of allegiance knows of and pays reverence to because it is one of the few tangible moments in the sport that anyone can point to and say “This is why we do it!”
But the simple reason we talk about it so much is because it is a night that belongs to Us. A night that belongs to Liverpool.