Milan great Kaka has admitted that he and his colleagues feared a repeat of Istanbul during the 2007 Champions League final, in which they claimed a 2-1 win over Liverpool.
In the showpiece two years earlier, the Rossoneri had been on the wrong end of one of the all-time great comebacks as the Reds rallied from a 3-0 half-time deficit to draw level and ultimately take the crown after a penalty shoot-out.
It was a match that became known as ‘The Miracle of Istanbul’ and Kaka, who was the Ballon d’Or winner in 2007, has confessed that there were fears of a repeat when the clubs met in an Athens rematch.
Filipo Inzaghi scored twice for the Italian outfit but they were made to endure a nervy conclusion after Dirk Kuyt scored following a corner.
“It was terrible, it was terrible when they scored the goal because the memory of 2005 came back: ‘Oh no, not again,’” the Brazilian told Milan’s official website. “It was a battle of wills and we felt the fear, the ‘Oh no, it’s happening again’ feeling. Fortunately, we held out and were able to celebrate at the end.”
The deeply religious Kaka, who finished the 2006-07 campaign as the Champions League top scorer after netting 10 goals, admitted that Milan were not after vengeance
“It was a sign from God, not a coincidence,” he said. “Deep down we had the feeling: ‘Damn, is the same team going to beat us again in a final?’ I don’t like to call it revenge or payback, I think that’s going too far, but it was marvellous and magical.”
Now 38, Kaka retired in 2017 after a career that saw him play for Sao Paulo, Real Madrid and Orlando City as well as Milan, where he enjoyed two spells.
With the Rossoneri, he won Serie A in the 2003-04 season, and after the Athens success helped them go on to win the 2007 UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. He turned out 92 times for Brazil, scoring 29 goals, and helped them to win the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.