Jamie Carragher was “shocked” and “taken aback” after being praised by Paolo Maldini in the build-up to the 2005 Champions League final.
Liverpool face Real Madrid in the final of the European Cup on Saturday, the first time they have reached that stage in 11 years.
But Jurgen Klopp will hope not to emulate the side that finished as runners-up in 2007. Winning the trophy, as Carragher did two years earlier, will be the aim.
In his column for the Daily Telegraph, the former Liverpool defender recalled how praise from Maldini ahead of the Istanbul final spurred him on.
“My life, perceptions of my playing career and self-perception of my ability changed after Istanbul. Before 2005 I considered myself a good Premier League footballer, but my Champions League experience took it to another level.
“I recall the build-up to final, reading an interview with Paolo Maldini – already an AC Milan legend at that point of his career – where he praised my defending, discussing my performances against Chelsea in the semi-final.
“I was taken aback. Until then, Maldini was a player I admired from afar as one of the greatest of our generation. It may sound strange, but I was shocked he even knew who I was, let alone recognised me enough to compliment me.
“Psychologically, it had a profound impact. When I walked side by side with the AC Milan players, I was not sure I belonged on that stage. Once we won it, I was sure I did.”