Manchester United players and fans were ecstatic. We were going to the European Cup final! Having gone down 2-0 against Juventus within the first ten minutes, United turned the game around and won 3-2.
A 2-2 draw would have been enough for us to progress that night in Turin. Giggsy, who had scored our only goal in the first leg, was out injured. The likes of Inzaghi, Zidane and Davids could tear us apart.
The fight back was initiated by captain Roy Keane. There wasn’t even time for celebration. Fist in the air he ran back to our half of the pitch, ready for the restart. After all, we had another goal to score yet!
By half-time we were level, Dwight Yorke scoring our equaliser. As it stood, we were going through. Andy Cole’s goal just added insult to injury though.
As we celebrated, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes trudged off the field. United were playing in the European Cup final, but those two weren’t.
“Turin was Roy Keane’s greatest moment,” Ferguson said today. “He was unbelievable that night, although the whole team did well. This is a similar position to the Juventus tie and we have got the players to step up to the plate. We have got players who can win the game. Winners, match-winners on the big occasion – that is what’s important. Against Porto we have to match our expectations and standards – the standards required of Manchester United.”
We’re ten years on from that wonderful season but Ferguson is having a laugh to think the situations are comparable. We were magic in 98-99. We are not in 08-09.
I’m not suggesting we’re dead in the water here as we might very well progress. We need to win a football match, it’s not beyond all realms of our capabilities. But there doesn’t seem to be the tiniest drop of the passion and excitement and madness that 1999 brought.
Rafael Benitez called for the Spirit of Istanbul last night and despite going 2-0 up, Liverpool ended dumped out of the European Cup. The Spirit of Turin? I don’t think so Fergie. If we win, it’s because we’re better. That year was about so much more than us being the better side.