ISL Players who were part of Miracle of Istanbul

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On 25th May 2005, Istanbul along with the whole world witnessed one of the greatest sporting events to have graced the game of football. 6 years after Manchester United had scored two goals in stoppage time to win the coveted Champions League in Barcelona, their bitter rivals Liverpool did the unthinkable in Turkey. A star-studded Milan side that had the great Paolo Maldini leading them, were up by 3 goals to nil and looked almost certain to win their 7th European title. Gerrard and company had other plans. A 6-minute blizzard from Liverpool tied the game at 3-3 at the 60th minute. Liverpool eventually went on to win their 5th Champions League trophy in a nerve-jangling penalty shootout, that saw the great Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko miss their spot-kicks.

With the introduction of the Indian Super League, some of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game have come to India to treat the fans. The likes of Del-Piero, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka, Forlan, Lucio, Trezeguet, Pires have all been part of the ISL. So have 4 players who were fortunate enough to be part of the hallowed night of 25th May 2005 in Istanbul.

Alessandro Nesta

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Nesta had joined Milan from Lazio in 2002 and became part of a back four which had Cafu, him, Maldini and Stam, probably the finest back defensive lineup back then. Nesta won it all with Milan and Italy and after his Milan career came to an end, he moved to the MLS and joined Montreal Impact, before Marco Materazzi brought him to Chennaiyin in 2014. He played only 3 games for the side from the Marina Arena. This was his last stint has a footballer as he hung his boots and donned the managerial hat as he went back to the MLS to take charge of Miami FC. Currently, Nesta manages Frosinone in the Serie B

Luis Garcia

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Luis Garcia had played for some of the giants of the game. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool is some of the names that stand out when you look at his CV. He was an integral part of the 2005 Champions League-winning Liverpool squad, he would probably be always remembered for his “ghost goal” against Chelsea in the semifinals. He signed for ATK (then known as Atletico de Kolkata) as a marquee player in 2014, the inaugural ISL season. He went on to win the championship in his only season in the ISL, as ATK beat Kerala Blasters 1-0 in the final in Mumbai. Garcia was an unused substitute in the final and wasn’t retained for the 2015 season because of injury concerns. He went on to play for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-league, before retiring from football.

John Arne Riise

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The Norwegian shot to fame while playing for Monaco in Ligue 1 before joining Liverpool in 2001. He turned out for the Kop for 7 seasons culminating in 234 games for the Merseyside club. Riise was the only Liverpool player to miss a penalty in the shoot-out during the 2005 Champions League final. He also played for Roma and Fulham before joining Delhi Dynamos in 2015, guiding them to a play-off finish. They lost to eventual runners up Goa in the two-legged play-offs. In 2016 Riise came out of retirement to sign Chennaiyin, who were the defending champions. Chennaiyin had a forgetful campaign defending their title as they finished 7th in the 8 team league that season.

Josemi

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Not many people might know but Josemi was one of the unused substitutes for Rafa Benitez’s side during the final in Istanbul. Josemi had joined Liverpool from Malaga and was part of the side for only 2 seasons, playing only 21 times. He went on to play for Villareal and Mallorca and also in Greece before being drafted by ATK during the inaugural ISL draft. He and Arnab Mondal at the heart of the ATK defence formed a formidable pair that was instrumental in the side’s successful campaign. He captained the side as they lifted the ISL title in its first season. He stayed at ATK for the 2015 season too before retiring at the age of 36.

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