2001: A Westfalenstadion Odyssey

Welcome to the first edition of the Stadialist newsletter! Hope you’re having a fantastic day and if you’re not, always remember, your career (hopefully) hasn't tanked like Jody Morris’ did back around the era today's feature took place. No offence to him, was a good ‘gritty’ English midfielder from memory. Though that's the fading memory of someone who was a teenager at the time.

Anyway! Let’s dive right into it shall we? Today we’re profiling a match that took place at the home of the infamous Yellow Wall - the Westfalenstadion, or as it’s known today, Signal Iduna Park. Sponsorships ey?

When there’s so much history with the home fans and home club, you may ask why we chose this game as the stand out. Today's feature doesn't even involve the team that plays here regularly. Borussia Dortmund incase you were wondering. What if I told you, in 2001 Liverpool won a treble? …of course no league title within that haul, quite insanely, 18 years later that wait still goes on for Jurgen Klopp’s men. Another Westfalonstadion legend, Jurgen! See this story writes itself practically.

On the 16th of May 2001 a game of epic proportions took place, but whilst Liverpool throughout the decades have been European royalty, a little known Basque club on the European stage took the 2001 UEFA Cup campaign by storm. It’s easy to forget post-Liverpool’s night in Istanbul just 4 years later, that this game was probably one of the most chaotic goal filled finals in modern history.

5-4! Let me repeat that, 5-4! …in a European final! In the floodlights of Dortmund’s home a crackers game involving a 205 year old Gary McAllister in Liverpool’s midfield and a future AC Milan has been in Javi Moreno. The names, the scenes. It’s nuts to think this game was only 3-1 at half time with Liverpool looking fairly comfortable.

The second half of this match was an absolutely masterclass by the aforementioned Javi Moreno, this performance alone earning him that move to (at the time a great) AC Milan team. I mean they were managed by Fatih Terim, how could they not be great?

This game was a Championship Manager who’s who bargain bin extravaganza. Some of the names on show for Alaves in particular. Just look at this…

  • #7 - Atleti 90’s stalwart Delfi Geli (coincidently scored an own goal to lose this game during Golden Goal).
  • #2 - Cosmim Contra, also earning himself a move to AC Milan.
  • #4 - Dan Eggen, subbed at 22 minutes for…
  • #19 - Ivan Alonso the striker that scored one, then had a journeyman career.
  • #9 - Javi Moreno, CM01/02 bargain.
  • #15 - Ivan Tomic, criminally underrated by parent club Roma.
  • #14 - Jordi Cruyff, the nearly son of an absolute icon. Also Man Utd reject.

An interesting side note about the stadium that night, it was pre-Germany’s 2006 World Cup renovations, so it wasn’t the 83,000 seater that we know as Dortmund’s fortress today. The match itself had a little under 49,000 in attendance that night.

Those 49,000 fans were treated to a English strike force of Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and super sub Robbie Fowler. As the kids would say these days, absolutely “filthy”. Fowler eventually netted what Liverpool thought would be the winner in normal time until an almost last minute header by aforementioned Man Utd reject Jordi Cruyff in the 88th minute. Perhaps the peak of his career, incidentally.

Another interesting fact in the lead up to this final was that both teams knocked out sides of incredible calibre. Alaves had saw to Inter Milan in the quarter finals, a team boasting Christian Vieri and Alvaro Recoba …oh and an injured R9, the ORIGINAL Ronaldo. After a 3-3 draw at home, they shockingly went to the San Siro and knocked out Inter on their own patch!

Liverpool had also pulled off the feat of knocking out Barcelona in the semi-finals, though perhaps this was one of the most underwhelming Barcelona sides in recent memory. Pep Guardiola started the game at Anfield! A Gary McAllister penalty seeing to that in the second leg at Anfield.

Ahem… To wrap this specific game up, on a night when the Yellow Wall was more of a Red Wall, Alaves proved one thing. Stock piling Championship Manager 01/02 bargains really works if you want to get to a European final! Just a shame they didn't bag Maxsim Tsigalko.

If you're interested, UEFA produced this short film about it - click here.

What do you think the best game ever played at the Westfalonstadion is? Let us know via Twitter and until then, see you next week.

Thanks for reading ✌️

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