Quel giorno a Roma, dall’altra parte

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Craig Johnston: “I had given Chris Rea’s album a hiding to such an extent that all the players knew the songs off by heart, especially ‘I Don’t Know What It Is (But I Love It)’. When one of us would sing a verse, the rest would come in on the chorus, clapping and chanting, evoking those images of unity and victory.”
 
“After the pitch inspection in Rome we made the long trek down the tunnel back to our dressing room, deep within the bowels of the Olympic Stadium. The tension among the squad was palpable as we walked in silence down that dark corridor. Inexplicably, Davey Hodgson then broke into a solo rendition of the opening verse of that song. One or two joined in and by the time we drew abreast of the Roma dressing room the whole Liverpool squad had joined in. The Roma players just looked on bemused, thinking this must be the super relaxed Liverpool squad they’d heard about!”

Peter Hooton (LFC fan): Liverpool were supposed to be the sacrificial lambs. In fact, when we arrived in Rome, street carnivals were already taking place. This was the Saturday before the match, and Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, all sorts of flags were being waved across Rome. Basically they declared it ‘Roma’ Campioni ’84. If anyone’s ever been to Rome, they’ll know just how passionate the fans are and I’ve never heard a noise like it when the two teams came on to the pitch. I’m sure it must have been on a par with stepping out into the Coliseum back in Roman times.”

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Phil Neal: “Well that day, I joined the attack and I can hear Joe and Bob saying, if you’re going to join the attack, stay with it until it breaks down. In other words you push yourself getting back very quickly. Well I joined the attack and all of a sudden it continued, a ricochet falls in the six-yard box, and who’s in there? Me!”

Bruce Grobbelaar: “Joe Fagan said to me ‘we can’t stop them hitting the target from 12 yards, if they don’t they shouldn’t be playing. As I was walking away, he said ‘you’ve done your job, we’re not going to blame you, just try to put them off’, and that stuck in my head. The two people who I did put off were Italian internationals Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. If they didn’t take the pressure then it’s not my fault. The Italians, the guys that missed the penalties, you could see in their faces they were not confident of hitting the target and they didn’t.”

Ronnie Moran: “Not much has been made over the years of the way Bruce comically wobbled his legs during the penalty shoot-out. But it put the Roma players off completely. Then again, if Bruce had told us beforehand that he was going to start larking about during a penalty shoot-out at the European Cup final, he would have been hit in the head.”

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Steve Nicol: “It was an awful feeling seeing my shot go over and I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. That penalty miss was something I’ll never forget.”

Ian Rush: “We weren’t the best at penalties and we struggled to get 5 to take them! We’d had a shoot-out in training before we went to Rome and I think only Phil Neal scored, so I think that’s why everyone was reluctant to step up. I didn’t volunteer. Only Graeme and Phil did. Souness then asked myself and Steve Nicol to take one but we were still one short so Alan Kennedy offered. Graeme had told us not to worry and we went into the shoot-out thinking ‘let’s just do our best’. But I was still nervous and that walk up to the spot, with 70,000 Italians whistling and booing, was very nerve-wracking. As soon as the ball hit the back of the net though I was engulfed by a great sense of relief.”

Alan Kennedy: “I had planned all the way through the shoot-out to put the ball to the keeper’s left, but changed my mind during the run-up and put it to his right. I had also planned, if I scored, to do a wonderful cartwheel/somersault celebration but I was so carried away that I just ended up running, running and, eventually, jumping up in the air, like a madman! We had a fantastic night, the likes of which I’ve never experienced in my life.”

Graeme Souness: “As players, we were desperate to do well for Joe Fagan in that season. It was Joe who did most of the talking and day-to-day communication with the players during the years Bob Paisley was in charge. We all recognised Bob for the manager he was – a genius. But we had a tremendous respect for Joe as well.”

Alan Hansen: “Joe Fagan pulled off a masterstroke even before we flew out to Rome. While Roma were locked away in some Italian mountain training retreat we holidayed in Israel. Joe told us to just relax and let our hair down. We had a couple of Italian journalists with us and they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. We were actually drinking beer two weeks before a European Cup Final.”

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