This is a hard one for me to write. Not just because the time before this event was dark and I wondered about taking radical actions because of the situation I was in.
First I need to set the scene. During the early 2000s I was studying film in Lillehammer. There I met some very special people and one special girl. In my second year I met who I would describe as the love of my life, I will not name her as she knows who she is and if ever someone who knows her might read this, I do not want to leave her feeling guilty over this.
We were together for two years and moved in together in a small apartment in Oslo. She continued her studies while I started working. Well, I say started working, I worked on commission for a telemarketer selling ad space in a web catalog. Not very well paid as I am not a very good salesman. I eventually quit that job and took a job as a security guard.
By the time I had started the new job however it was too late. The financial strain of me not making enough money killed the relationship. That was not the only factor as she studied in Denmark and was rarely in the apartment.
I was heartbroken. I had just lost a job that I thought I would be successful at, and the love of my life. It was hard to see any light in any tunnel. In fact I was never sure if I even was in a tunnel. The darkness became something I embraced and the thoughts that followed was nothing I would wish upon anyone. There is no better torturer than yourself.
With all this happening, I moved in with my brother. I have always gotten along well with my brother, and I did not mind sleeping wherever I could rest my head. The biggest mistake I ever made was writing a letter to my ex. It was not a very friendly letter and I now wish I had never done it.
Afterwards I told her I no longer felt what I told her in the letter that I felt. This was a partial lie. At some point I had even picked out a bridge, but I could not jump off. Something stopped me.
On Saturday 25th of May 2005, my brother and I were watching Liverpool play AC Milan in the finals of Champions League. I had never been a big fan of football as a kid, nor had I ever followed an entire season. We are a Liverpool family. Most of my relatives on my father’s side are Liverpool supporters, so it felt natural to cheer them on.
The first half was however dismal. It did not take long before they were under 3-0 and I did not feel any better. My brother became so pissed off that he needed to take a shower to cool off. I did not really get the engagement, but I started to feel some empathy for him as I heard the supporters sing You’ll Never Walk Alone at the start of the second half.
It felt like they still believed. No one could ever get back from that. That wasn’t how life worked in my experience. If someone was overrun like that, they just laid down and took it. The team went back on the field and there was something different about them.
In the 54th minute the captain, Steven Gerrard, headed in a goal from a cross by John Arne Riise. There was no wasted time. No celebration, just Gerrard chasing the team back, so the game could be started again. We were on the edge of our seat. Was this even possible?
Two minutes later Smicer fired off a shot that left every Liverpool fan in every corner of the world filled with hope. I was on my feet. I no longer felt like I was just someone who liked Liverpool. I was a supporter.
Steven Gerrard goes down in the penalty box. The referee pointed to the spot and we were left feeling like this could happen. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it now. Xabi Alonso stepped up. Dida saved it, but Xabi put in the rebound. I am sure that every Liverpool supporter at that point lost their voice, screaming out of joy, my brother and I at least did.
The rest of the second half was tense. Jerzy Dudek made a horrible mistake which almost led to an AC Milan goal by Andriy Shevchenko, but luckily we were spared that. The second half led to extra time, and when the extra time finally was over, the penalty shootout was the only way to decide who was the champions of Europe.
It was one of the most nerve-wrecking moments in my life at that point, apart from a few near-death situations. I still don’t understand how and why it happened, but I felt like I was on the field and was a part of something greater than myself.
After a few typical penalties was taken, it came down to Shevchenko, one of the most prolific goal scorers in Europe, against Dudek. Shevchenko had not scored during the game, so he had something to correct. You could feel the tension all the way from Istanbul to my brother’s apartment. He stepped up and took a running start. Dudek saved. He saved it!
It was unbelievable! I still cannot explain what it felt like and I have very little to compare it to, but I cannot remember being as ecstatic as I was at that point. I had been happy and content in the past, but never that ecstatic.
The reason why I am writing this story today is that tomorrow it will be 15 years since that faithful day. The day that I learned that at the end of the storm there IS a golden sky and I can get there. With what I am working with right now, the Sherpa method and few other projects, I feel like I am Xabi Alonso and I am stepping up to take that important penalty. I may miss it, but I am ready to take that rebound.
Who knows what joy a possible penalty shootout might bring me? I can’t wait. Thank you, Liverpool Football Club, for saving my life and showing me anything is possible.