Where are they now? Liverpool’s Champions League finalists of 2007
On Saturday, Liverpool will play their second Champions League final in a row when they take on Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.
It’s a chance for the Reds to banish the memories of last season’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid. That clash in Kiev was their first final in the competition for over a decade, since Athens hosted a repeat of the glorious 2005 final between the Anfield club and Milan in 2007.
On that occasion, the Serie A giants claimed revenge with a 2-1 victory – but what happened to the Liverpool side that came close to more European silverware that day?
Coach: Rafa Benitez
The man credited with inspiring the comeback in Istanbul was powerless to do it again against an all-star Milan team featuring Paolo Maldini, Kaka, Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo and Pippo Inzaghi. This time, however, his team was only 1-0 down at the break via a deflected Inzaghi goal on the stroke of half-time.
But Rafa wasn’t able to repeat his tactical magic this time, and his substitution of Javier Mascherano for Peter Crouch to help find an equaliser worked against him: Milan doubled their lead in the 82nd minute.
Benitez left Liverpool in 2010 by “mutual consent” and succeeded Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan. Success with the Nerazzurri wasn’t forthcoming, though, and by November 2012 he was an unpopular appointment at Chelsea – where he went on to win the Europa League.
After further loveless spells at Napoli and Real Madrid, Benitez finally found a more welcoming home on Tyneside with Newcastle in 2016, leading them back to the Premier League at the first time of asking before consolidating their place in the top flight.
Goalkeeper: Pepe Reina
Reina is hailed by many Reds as the best goalkeeper Liverpool have ever had in the Premier League era, but the Spaniard could do little to stop the first goal in Athens; a Pirlo free-kick which deflected in off Inzaghi’s arm. He was then cruelly rounded by the Italian striker for the late second goal.
During his time at Anfield, Reina won three consecutive Premier League Golden Glove awards between 2006 and 2008, Liverpool’s player-of-the-year award in 2009/10, plus an FA and League Cup apiece. He was also part of the Spain squads that won two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup, but played only one match across the three tournaments.
After unceremoniously leaving Liverpool for good in 2014, Reina acted as stand-in to Manuel Neuer at Bayern Munich for a season, before returning to former loan club Napoli. After three seasons of regular football, he agreed to become a No.2 once more by joining Milan on a free transfer in 2018, where he has warmed the bench as a back-up for Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Right-back: Steve Finnan
Often unfairly remembered by non-Liverpool fans as a weak point in this Reds side, Finnan was actually a consistently solid defender. After being subbed off with an injury in the 2005 final, the Irishman was also replaced in 2007 – this time in the 88th minute, by Alvaro Arbeloa.
Finnan went to on play for Liverpool until 2008, before an ill-fated year in Spain with Espanyol, and finally finished his career in 2010 with Portsmouth.
The ex-Ireland defender is now running a property development company: the aptly-named Finnan Developments, in London.
Centre-back: Daniel Agger
The man who eventually went on to replace Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia, Agger was appreciated at Anfield for his no-nonsense defending and habit of scoring a screamer or two.
It was his flick-on from a corner that found Dirk Kuyt, who scored what turned out to be Liverpool’s consolation goal on the night. The Danish centre-half went on to play for Liverpool until 2014, before returning to his first club Brondby.
Trained tattoo artist Agger retired in 2016 at the relatively young age of 31, and has undertaken various ventures in his retirement – including investment in his younger brother’s sewage company (KloAgger), a charity (The Agger Foundation) and tattoo culture community (Tattoodo).
Centre-back: Jamie Carragher
An Everton fan, but a Liverpool legend. By this point, Carra was still one of the first names on the Reds teamsheet, and had just come to the end of his first season in partnership with Agger.
Carragher spent his entire career at Liverpool, spanning 737 appearances, and retired in 2013 with winners' medals from the Champions League (2005), FA Cup (2001, 2006), League Cup (2001, 2003, 2012) and UEFA Cup (2001).
The former England international moved into punditry and formed an unlikely, formidable partnership with former rival Gary Neville on Sky Sports – although he was suspended after spitting at a car following Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in March 2018.
Left-back: John Arne Riise
The Norwegian with a sledgehammer left foot became a cult hero at Liverpool thanks to his frightening ability to punish footballs – and by extension, poor goalkeepers. Riise was a classic modern full-back: constantly looking to get forward, but not always the most reliable defensively. As a result, he was often played on the wing.
He left Liverpool in 2008 and went on to play for Roma, Fulham and APOEL, as well as two clubs in the Indian Super League and a short return to the club where he began his career, Aalesund.
Riise subsequently became a football agent and CEO of Global Finest Athletes, before joining Maltese outfit Birkirkara FC as sports director in January 2019.
Central midfield: Xabi Alonso
Alonso epitomised the cool, calm and collected Spanish midfielders of his generation. After scoring in the 2005 final – his first season at Anfield – he played alongside Javier Mascherano in Athens, but gave away the close-range free-kick from which Milan scored their opener.
Despite signing a five-year contract in June 2007, Alonso left Liverpool for Real Madrid in 2009 after a breakdown in relationship with Rafa Benitez, who was desperate to sign Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.
A Liga title in 2011/12 preceded a Champions League success in 2013/14, when Madrid landed La Decima against local rivals Atletico (although Alonso was suspended for the final itself). The midfielder wasn’t around to see them try to defend it, however, as he joined Bayern Munich that summer.
There, the Bavarians were beaten Champions League semi-finalists in each of his three seasons. After retiring at the end of 2016/17, Alonso took his coaching badges before returning to the Bernabeu to coach Madrid's Under-14s in August 2018.
Central midfield: Javier Mascherano
Mascherano was the hard-hitting midfielder who allowed Alonso and Steven Gerrard more freedom in their play. Most people agree that his substitution for Peter Crouch late in the game gave Kaka the space to set up Milan’s winning goal on the night.
The Argentine left Anfield in 2010 to join Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. It was here where he enjoyed most of his success – including two Champions League titles – and later converted into a ball-playing centre-half. Mascherano won everything available to him at Barça, and dedicated his first lifting of Ol’ Big Ears to Liverpool fans after 2011’s 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley.
Mascherano joined Chinese side Hebei China Fortune in January 2018 but that didn’t stop him travelling to the World Cup with Argentina last summer, where he became his country’s most-capped player when he pulled on the blue and white shirt for the 144th time in their opening game against Iceland.
The 34-year-old played every minute of a forgettable campaign for Argentina in Russia – they were eliminated in the last 16 by eventual champions France – and announced his retirement from international football after the tournament. He is now in his second season in China.