At 3pm today, over on The 5th Stand app, we’ll be showing the full game rerun of our 2005 League Cup final win over Liverpool. In the match we benefitted from an own goal by Reds skipper Steven Gerrard who, had things panned out differently, could have been playing in blue that day.
During the summer of 2004, there was plenty of speculation that Liverpool’s captain would be on his way to Stamford Bridge, leaving behind one new manager – Rafa Benitez – to be part of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea revolution.
‘What was to say Benitez couldn’t give Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal a run for their money,' wrote Gerrard in his first autobiography, published in 2006. ‘Uncertainty still nagged away at me, though. Could one man really revive Liverpool?’
Later on in the same chapter, set during Euro 2004, he wrote of how his performances at the tournament suffered due to the thoughts swirling around his head regarding his future at club level.
‘When I should have been getting ready for kick-off, my thoughts drifted away into imagining what it would be like playing for Chelsea or Barcelona.
‘Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson talked me up before the tournament, so I knew they fancied signing me.’
He went on to speculate on how Chelsea knew he ‘had not been happy at Liverpool’. In the end, however, after talking things through with his family, he phoned Reds chief executive to tell him he was staying.
That season, of course, would end spectacularly for the Blues as we went on to be crowned Premier League champions for the first time, winning the title at a canter.
Key to that triumph was lifting the League Cup along the way, which was the first trophy won by the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Joe Cole.
We did so by beating Liverpool in the final in the game you can see live on the 5th Stand later today, although we were trailing 1-0 for much of the contest until Gerrard’s intervention.
A hopeful free-kick was played into the box and it skimmed off the head of the Reds No.8 and into the back of the net. We were deservedly level, having dominated throughout, and we went on to win it in extra-time.
By the end of May, Liverpool also had cause for celebration. They had won arguably the most memorable Champions League final of them all with a famous comeback over AC Milan, having reached that stage courtesy of Luis Garcia’s so-called ‘ghost goal’ against us in the semi-finals.
But just a few weeks after that, reports emerged that Gerrard had handed in a transfer request and Chelsea had tabled a British-record transfer bid for him.
The way things were playing out in the press suggested the deal was not far away, but a swift U-turn by Gerrard meant he committed his future to his boyhood club. But just how close did it come to happening?
‘We did everything to try [to sign him] and it was almost there,’ said Mourinho a decade later. ‘I was dreaming of [Claude] Makelele, Gerrard and [Frank] Lampard in midfield.
‘Me, Mr Abramovich and [former chief executive] Peter Kenyon at that time, we dreamed of that.
‘His people were open to him joining a top side like Chelsea. But to me personally he never said he would come. Never.’
Instead of lining up for the Blues, Gerrard was front and centre as one of the biggest rivalries in English football played out over the course of the remainder of his time with the Reds.
In all he played 39 times against the Blues and won only 11 of them, scoring two goals in the process. Well, three if you include the own-goal at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium…
Watch the full rerun of our 2005 League Cup victory from 3pm on The 5th Stand app.