'If this lift comes, we will win' - Benitez reveals strange elevator superstition ahead of Champions League glory

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has opened up on a strange superstition he had about a series of lifts ahead of his side's Champions League triumph over Milan in 2005.

The former Reds boss led his side to a remarkable comeback, the Miracle of Istanbul, when he overturned a three-goal deficit to force a penalty shootout victory in Turkey a decade-and-a-half ago in what is still widely considered one of the all-time great European finals.

Goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso in the space of six second-half minutes helped turn a game where the Premier League outfit looked dead and buried at the break on its head. before goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek proved a spot-kick hero after the final whistle had gone.

The victory remains the glittering jewel in Benitez's managerial career, but the Spaniard has now revealed that he had a premonition ahead of the match involving the elevators in his hotel in Istanbul that proved remarkably prescient.

"I still think about standing in the team hotel before the game, waiting for one of the elevators to take us down to the lobby," he told The Athletic ahead of the anniversary of the match.

"I was saying, ‘If this lift comes, we will win 1-0. If it’s that one, we’ll draw, if it’s that one over there, we’ll lose. And if it’s this one, we’ll win on penalties’. There are no prizes for guessing which one finally arrived. It was a night of ups and downs, so a story about lifts feels appropriate."

Benitez, who is now in charge of Dalian Professional in the Chinese Super League after three years at the helm of Newcastle United, remains a folk hero on Merseyside for his role in securing a long-awaited European triumph, a feat that Liverpool only repeated for the first time since last year under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp.

He would later win the FIFA Club World Cup with Inter and take Chelsea to Europa League success after he was appointed interim boss of the Blues for a six-month spell across the latter half of the 2012-13 campaign.