Steven Gerrard may have helped to ruin a special night for Hernan Crespo a decade ago, but the former striker insists he still takes pride from having faced the Liverpool captain.

The two men were opponents in the 2005 Champions League final, when the Reds trailed 3-0 at half-time and yet were ultimately the team that returned home with the silverware.

It seemed so unlikely after a scintillating opening 45 minutes by AC Milan, with Crespo striking twice - his second and the Italians' third a goal of particularly nonchalant brilliance.

But equally impressive was the header from Gerrard early in the second half which kickstarted a comeback that carried Liverpool to a penalty shootout victory at the Ataturk Stadium.

The No.8's performance on the night was a major factor in denying Crespo and Milan the cup, and the individual display imprinted itself on the minds of many of the Serie A outfit.

That's certainly the case for the Argentinian, who watched on as Gerrard said goodbye to Anfield earlier this month ahead of his switch to LA Galaxy in America this summer.

"I felt the way he said goodbye to Anfield with his kids was a beautiful moment, a piece of history that is sadly leaving," Crespo, a former Chelsea player, told The Guardian.

"I feel proud to have faced Steven, both in that final and when I was at Chelsea. I thought back to all the times we battled hard on the pitch but always as honourable men, filled with passion and love for football."

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Rarely was Gerrard's passion more in evidence than that night in Istanbul.

Look at his face and reaction immediately after leaping free among the Milan defence to loop a stunning header past Dida and offer the slightest glimmer of hope to Liverpool.

Vladimir Smicer powered in a second and a surging run by the skipper earned a penalty that Xabi Alonso fired home on the rebound to restore sensational parity.

Having started the game in central midfield, then moved further forward, Gerrard was later switched to - and thrived at - right wing-back by then Reds boss Rafael Benitez.

Crespo recalled: "Didi Hamann came in front of the defence to free up Steven Gerrard.

"That switch put us in a very difficult situation. And then something that only destiny can control happened.

"Like the great headed goal by Steven, Vladimir Smicer with that great shot, and then the penalty that was first saved and then scored by Xabi Alonso. But the best was saved for last I guess."

By that, the 39-year-old means the double save by Jerzy Dudek that kept out Crespo's strike partner in the 2005 showpiece, Andriy Shevchenko, in extra-time.

The Ukrainian seemed a banker to secure the trophy for Milan from close range, but the Liverpool goalkeeper palmed out his initial header and somehow blocked the follow-up.

"I will never forget Dudek's save from Shevchenko's effort, something incredible," said Crespo.

"I believe that Jerzy still to this day has no idea how he stopped that shot. How Shevchenko did not score that goal is surreal."