Former Liverpool player Alan Kennedy, who scored against Real Madrid in the 1981 European Cup final to hand the whites a rare loss in the final, spoke to MARCA in an interview where he discussed that game in 1981, as well as the battle of the upcoming final.
What was it like to play against Real Madrid in the final in 1981?
“At that time, it was a huge challenge to play against them. Real Madrid at that time had already won the European Cup many times. People said they were going to win. But our Liverpool was also very strong. People wrote us off too soon. I think mentally we were more confident. The coach, Bob Paisley, had a clever way of downplaying the rival and the game itself. He told us that we only needed one goal, that one of our own was going to decide the final. He repeated and repeated that idea. We believed in his message so much that in the end it came true.
“I did not expect the error (from Real Madrid defender Garcia Cortes). I was surprised when García Cortes completely lost the ball. He tried to clear it like crazy. He was left-footed and that day he played right back, so maybe he was a bit disoriented. When I found myself in front of the goal, I didn’t see any other options, so I just shot with all the force I had.
“I have had many very good moments in my career: the five leagues I won with Liverpool, the two European Cups, for example. But, if I have to stay for a specific moment, I choose the goal against Real Madrid in 1981. It was possibly the best moment of my career.”
On Real Madrid and Liverpool’s storied European rivalry
“I don’t think history should play any part in this. It is a different scenario, a different stadium and with different players. This Liverpool team is much stronger, much more confident after the huge success they have had since 2018.
On Real Madrid’s comebacks
“I don’t know what to say. I was very impressed by Real Madrid against City. I found it really amazing. It was as if Manchester City only played with seven players at the end of the game. They beat them up and forced them to make mistakes. There came a time when I thought that all the centers were going to end up at the bottom of the net. It was brilliant. It remains to be seen if Real Madrid can do it for the fourth time in a row.”
On Karim Benzema
“I have to say that Karim Benzema has been very brilliant this season. He had played with the best at Real Madrid. Now, after living in Cristiano’s shadow, he is proving that he is one of the best in the world. For me he is in the Top 3 in the world. Having seen his hat-trick against Chelsea and his goal against City, I’m sure the Liverpool defense will be more than aware of the threat he poses. He has that scoring nose and does everything. He reminds me of the old strikers of my generation. If Liverpool want to win, it is essential that they stop the Frenchman. I hope he has a bad day in the final.”
Prediction for the final
“Seeing what both teams are capable of doing, anything could happen in Paris. However, I firmly believe that if Liverpool play at their best, they will win the game.”