Legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas fell in beloved with Liverpool and Anfield during his stellar career, one time leaving the pitch in tears after producing 1 of his greatest always performances.
The World Loving cup winner retired in 2019 after five years at Porto, making his final always Champions League appearance confronting the Reds equally part of a 510-game playing career – 16 years of which came at Real Madrid.
His swansong with the Portuguese club saw him twice receive warm ovations from the faithful Kop, when appearing against
in the 2018 and 2019 Champions League knockout stages.
iii years agone today
Casillas offered a heartfelt message of cheers for his reception.
He said: “I would like to thank the Liverpool fans for that lovely particular.
“Applauding a actor from the opposite team does not happen very oft.”
Many Liverpool fans who paid tribute to 1 of football’s finest ever shot-stoppers while he was with Porto would accept remembered the Spainard’s stunning individual performance against the Reds in March 2009.
Rafa Benitez’south side would record a handsome four-0 victory on the nighttime against Real Madrid to progress to the European Cup quarter-finals, just it could have been far more if not for a remarkable display of goalkeeping by Casillas who produced a string of brilliant saves to go along the rampant Reds at bay.
And in an interview with the
New York Times,
revealed his recollections of that game which he admitted had him leaving the pitch with tears in his eyes –
feeling “powerless” to plow the Liverpool and Anfield tide.
At present, with such a legendary player taking the time to recognise Reds fans and their historic home, the Repeat has taken a expect at other icons of the game who have done the same.
We’ll kickoff with arguably the most gifted player to always grace a football pitch –
The late, troubled Argentinian genius never made it to Anfield as a player but finally made it to Merseyside to sentry Liverpool in a Europa League match confronting Lille in March 2010.
Benitez’south side overturned Eden Hazard’southward first-leg goal to win iii-0 on the night, cheers to a brace from Fernando Torres and penalty from Steven Gerrard, while Maradona watched on –
though his affinity with the Reds started v years earlier
that 2005 Champions League final
Maradona alleged: “The English club proved that miracles really do be. I’ve now made Liverpool my English team. They showed that football game is the most beautiful sport of all.
“The Liverpool supporters didn’t allow me go to sleep the dark earlier, there were 10 of them to every three Milan supporters.
“They showed their unconditional support at half-time when they were losing three-0 and even so they didn’t cease singing.”
Next, nosotros’ll move onto a man who’southward sensational exploits on the pitch and ideas on the game inverse the sport –
The Dutch master, who sadly died in March 2016 aged 68 afterward a battle with lung cancer, wrote in his autobiography how playing at Anfield gave him “goosebumps” and left him with a huge desire to play in English football.
He played at Anfield twice, once with Ajax and once with Barcelona, the commencement visit coming in Dec 1966 a week subsequently his Ajax team had beaten the Reds 5-ane in the
famous “fog game” in Amsterdam
where most of the crowd couldn’t actually run into the activeness.
Cruyff got one in Amsterdam and some other ii at Anfield a week later, on a European Cup night which would stay with him downward the years.
“I stood on the pitch at Anfield with goosebumps,” he wrote. “Not because I was scared of our opponents but considering of the temper.
“The huge Kop stand where the almost fanatical supporters were, and all their singing: Anfield was incredibly impressive.
“I really enjoyed information technology for xc minutes, and we played a magnificent game. Even though it was a two-2 depict, we were in complete control.
“From that evening English language football had captured my eye.
“I had never seen anything like this – the passion for the game, and how much the fans wanted their team to win, and it made me think that one day I would like to play in England.
“Unfortunately that dream didn’t come up to pass considering in those days borders were still airtight to foreign players.
“Fifty-fifty today I still recollect that was a terrible shame.”
Another famous quote from Cruyff likewise hung on a wall at Melwood: “There’southward not one club in the world so united with the fans. I sat there watching the Liverpool fans and they sent shivers down my spine. A mass of 40,000 became one force behind their team” role of it read.
The next incredible talent, one time described by Pele as “the greatest player in the globe”, who has recognised the power of Anfield in his autobiography is
The magnificent, yet flawed star won the Ballon d’Or while at Manchester United and wrote in detail near when his side used to face off with the Reds.
“The temper when the teams met was electrical,” he penned.
“When the Liverpool Kop sang ‘Yous’ll Never Walk Lonely’, I’d wait upwardly from the pitch and see them swaying in time to their singing, which had the force and emotion of a massed cathedral choir.”
Air-conditioning Milan fable
Paolo Maldini, who played more than than one,000 games across his 25-yr career,
has also hailed the “unique” Anfield temper.
The former Italian republic defender was relishing the prospect of gracing the hallowed turf when he captained Ac Milan Legends confronting
Legends in a special clemency game in March 2019.
“It’due south a true honour to be part of this great match,” Maldini, who faced the Reds in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, said.
“Games against Liverpool have always been hard fought battles until the very terminal minute.
“It’s great to have the take chances to relive such moments in this special stadium. Permit’s hope that Anfield, with its unique atmosphere, will be sold out.”
Staying with Italian legends and some other man who has played more than than 1,000 games for lodge and country,
said Anfield was one of the all-time football stadiums he has ever played in.
The World Cup winner believes the notoriously hostile Anfield welcome for a visiting histrion is up at that place with the most intense he has e’er encountered – with Ibrox running it close too, along with Fenerbahce’south in Istanbul.
“Definitely Anfield, in
Liverpool,” said Buffon, speaking to
“That was one of the few stadiums – forth with Rangers in Glasgow and Fenerbahce in Istanbul – where at that place was such commotion for the first 15-xx minutes that I had trouble concentrating.”
is another footballing legend who has paid tribute to Anfield and the temper.
The former Armory and Barcelona striker, who lit upwards games with his attacking prowess and produced a few stunning performances against the Reds,
praised Reds fans’ unbelievable spirit at the stadium
back in 2008 while he was playing at the Military camp Nou.
“For my kickoff few years at Arsenal we didn’t do well there, but we improved,” he said. “It’due south the atmosphere I honey. It’s unbelievable.
“I’ve played in a lot of stadiums simply for me in that location is nothing similar playing at Liverpool.
“Nothing can trounce Highbury, of course, but playing at Anfield was great.
“The fans e’er sing and hold upwards their scarves before and later the game – whether they have won or lost.
“It must be amazing if yous are a Liverpool role player.”
Camp Nou legend
Xavi, who was i of the greatest players of his generation before hanging up his boots in 2019, played at Anfield in 2001 during the Champions League group stages where Barca ran out iii-ane winners.
The supreme midfielder explained that fans at Anfield left him “speechless” during the game.
“The fans remained for the whole game and never stopped applauding their team,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was speechless.”
Meanwhile, two footballing superstars of the game today
have also both highlighted the Anfield temper.
Ronaldo told his Madrid teammates in 2014 that Anfield was “the nearly hard away game” from his time in the Premier League while Messi, even after Barca beat Liverpool iii-0 at home in the start leg of their Champions League semi-final in 2019, said his side knew the tie wasn’t decided as they “all the same had to go to a very difficult stadium where the atmosphere is peachy”.
Clearly with reviews like these Anfield has ever had something special, and when fans return and so volition that unique quality with Man Urban center star
Kevin De Bruyne
he loved the atmosphere at the Reds’ home.
“If you are somebody who wants to compete for titles and win, these are the games you desire to play,” he said.
“I similar Anfield, I like it a lot. I dear people existence on you lot, beingness noisy, that is what it’due south all near. I beloved the passion of football.
“Lately, a lot of new things take been introduced in football game, but I notwithstanding love things how they were in the old days – people shout and get their team frontward. That is something that I learned in Germany, because fans are so behind their team.
“The abode players probably get a piffling flake more [from the Anfield atmosphere] but fifty-fifty if it’s confronting you, you are at the superlative of the world, playing the best level. That is what you want.
“You lot fight your whole lifetime to be here. That’s the appreciation yous become for working as a young child and getting here.”
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And his manager
stating that Anfield’south temper was the “world’s all-time”.
The City boss believed the Anfield aura is unsurpassed in world football and declared: “It makes opponents feel minor.”
“I thought they’d score a goal at Anfield, and I am certain the players knew that Anfield is Anfield,” Guardiola said after Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-0 in 2019.
“The motto ‘This is Anfield’ is no marketing spin. There’s something about it that yous will find in no other stadium in the world.
“They score a goal and over the adjacent v minutes you feel that yous’ll receive another four. You lot feel modest and the rival players seem to be all over you.
“Nosotros’ve all gone through what happened to Barca.
“They were laughing at me when nosotros were losing 3-0 after the commencement 15, 20 minutes of the quarter-final. It’s a b****r of a basis.”