There is a laugh, then a long pause as Andrea Dossena contemplates his answer. As a Liverpool player, in five glorious days, he took the roof off Anfield and silenced Old Trafford with the fourth goal in routs of Real Madrid and Manchester United, but deciding which was more enjoyable is tough.
“I think it is better to score at home in front of your supporters,” Dossena eventually says, looking back on those events of March 2009. “Obviously, the opposition supporters going home in silence is fantastic too, especially as it was against Man U and everyone knows the rivalry between the two teams, but when you score you want to shout and see your supporters jumping. Not many players can say they have scored at Anfield for Liverpool in the Champions League against Real Madrid.”
A chance to do just that awaits Jürgen Klopp’s squad this month in a quarter-final that opens in Spain on Tuesday. An outcome as emphatic as the one Dossena enjoyed at the same juncture would be a surprise. Rafa Benítez’s side thrashed Madrid 5-0 on aggregate and followed that with a 4-1 win against title rivals United. It seemed unthinkable then that Liverpool would end the season without a trophy when Steven Gerrard was at his peak and Fernando Torres was putting fear into central defenders. For Dossena that week looked set to be a turning point after a tough half-season since his £7m arrival from Udinese.
Dossena lasted only a season and a half at Anfield but he left with plenty of memories. “I never found another atmosphere like that after leaving Anfield,” he says. “I remember when I started to warm up against Real, it was strange as I’d never felt an atmosphere like it, except for maybe at home against Man U at home in September. You can feel it in the air – the fans are pushing you forward with their support.”
Anfield was rocking after Torres and a Gerrard double left Madrid floundering, with Dossena adding the gloss to a memorable night for the club. “When I watch the game back against Real I feel something behind my back. I can still see the Kop in front of me and I say: ‘I can do it.’ It’s very difficult for me to explain what you feel in that moment.”
Confidence was understandably high when Liverpool travelled to face United, who were seven points clear of Benítez’s side at the top. Torres spent the afternoon making Nemanja Vidic look amateurish, as Liverpool reignited their title challenge, boosted by Dossena, brought on again as an auxiliary winger, sending a 91st-minute coup de grâce soaring over Edwin van der Sar.
“I was not surprised,” he says. “As a player I had that touch to do a pallonetto because I scored two other times with a lob in my career.” It should be said, however, that Dossena scored only 11 goals in a career spanning 16 years, so it was a shock to many that almost a fifth of that total came in five days.
“We were a great team. Our mind was on winning the Premier League; the mentality of that team was to beat Man U to win the title as there had been too many years since Liverpool won the league. We tried to fight until the end but Man U was very strong. Our team had great character and attitude.”
That week was a high point in a tough season for the Italian, who made 16 league appearances, a total inflated by Fábio Aurélio’s injury problems. It ranks among his favourite career moments, alongside his Italy and Serie A debuts.
“It was very difficult,” he says of his time at Liverpool. “I wasn’t so young – I was 25 – but I didn’t have so much experience … when I arrived there, I took in everything the gaffer said to me, but if I could speak to that Andrea, I’d like to tell him: ‘Hey, keep going in your way. You need to work more than the other players to be good with your physicality and mentality, because God gave them a great technique, a great physiology and they don’t need to work the extra two to three hours.’ In my career, in my best seasons I worked a lot. This situation didn’t happen in Liverpool and, after one year, I decided to leave as I didn’t feel 100% myself.”
The shirts from the triumphs over Madrid and Manchester United adorn his home in Italy. Dossena will watch the upcoming games against the Spanish champions. “I switch off my phone so no one can disturb me – I have my routine. I want to study because I love Klopp, I want to learn from him for my work. I want to learn when to move a player, how he likes to attack, how he changes the defence and I like the pressing so much. I try to take some secrets from him, so I need to concentrate for 90 minutes.”
Dossena is chasing promotion from Serie D as manager of Crema, but he has bigger goals. Could he return to Liverpool as manager one day? “Ooof! It is a dream in my head and I have to try to make it real.”