Steven McManaman is one of the very few players to have played for two of the biggest clubs in Europe, Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Born in Bootle, the Englishman came through the Liverpool academy and spent 9 years playing for the senior team between 1990 and 1999. During that time, he made 272 appearances and was one of the finest wingers in England.
That is when Real Madrid came calling. The Galacticos, a nickname McManaman claims a lot of Madrid players did not enjoy being called, came calling for him in 1999. He left the Reds a month and a half after his mother passed away.
Steve McManaman of Real Madrid and Ryan Giggs of Manchester United. Credit: Alex Livesey /Allsport
And in his first season itself, he had a moment players can only dream of having as young footballers. The now 50-year-old star scored in the 2000 UEFA Champions League final for Real Madrid against Valencia at the Stade de France.
Speaking in an interview with football betting site Betway, McManaman revealed how it felt to score on the grandest stage in club football. Los Blancos went on to win the game 3-0, with the Englishman’s goal sandwiched between strikes from Spain’s striking duo Fernando Morientes and Raul.
“There was pressure to do well to a certain extent and I was nervous that everybody was coming over to watch. We’d laugh and joke on the bus and be ready for it and talk to each other. And then I’d start to warm up internally in the dressing room just focusing on the game. But the goal came out of nothing. I think a long throw cleared in the air, and I nipped in front of whoever was marking me.”
McManaman claimed that he wasn’t really a big celebrator of goals but this moment was special. His dad had lost his life partner just over a month before his son’s move to Madrid, and the right-midfielder just ran towards his father after the dream strike.
“I was never a big celebrator of goals but I turned and ran towards where my dad was and I sort of celebrated towards them.”
He won the UCL again next season and played 13 games in both campaigns. He was clearly one of their main men but was slowly removed from first-team action and by the 2003/04 season, was transferred to Manchester City.
He had a career laden with big moments but certainly nothing beats scoring in a final, that too of the biggest club competition.