"It's their turn" - McDermott urges Liverpool to draw on spirit of '81

Madrid (AFP) –


When Liverpool last beat Real Madrid to win the European Cup, Terry McDermott was the tournament's top scorer and neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Mohamed Salah were even born.

The 1981 final at the Parc des Princes in Paris, decided by Alan Kennedy's late goal, earned Liverpool a third European crown in five seasons, at around the midway point of the club's most dominant era.

McDermott played in all three finals, scoring the winner in the first, against Borussia Monchengladbach in 1977, and finishing the last as the joint highest scorer in the competition, on six with team-mate Graeme Souness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge of Bayern Munich.

"I got a hat-trick in the first game against a Finnish team, Oulun Palloseura," McDermott said, in an exclusive interview with AFP. "That certainly helped."

On Tuesday, the former box-to-box midfielder, who grew up a stone's throw away from Liverpool's Anfield stadium, put his three trophies up for sale at a London auction. They were expected to fetch around £15,000 ($20,200, 17,100 euros) each.

?I've thought about it for a while," McDermott said. "My three kids are doing fine but they can put it into a house or pay off the mortgage."

The memories, however, remain of when Liverpool last played Europe's most glamorous team for the continent's biggest prize.

"They were a good side in '81 but they weren't what they are now," McDermott said. "We weren't afraid of them, the opposite in fact. We'd been in the final a few times, knew what it was about. They were the inexperienced ones."

Liverpool's victory meant the European Cup sat in an English trophy cabinet for a fifth year in a row, just as it will be a fifth consecutive success for Spain if Real triumph on Saturday.

- 'Longest week of your life' -

Liverpool had finished fifth in the league too, after ending with a 1-0 win over 12th-placed Manchester City, and there were eight days to wait before the final.

"The build-up is unbelievable but it's frustrating as hell," McDermott said. "One year we even went to Israel for a holiday because as the players will be finding out now, it's the longest week of your life."

Some tickets for the match in Kiev are selling for more than 10,000 pounds each, with Real Madrid and Liverpool fans allocated just over 33,000 of the 63,000 capacity.

Tickets in 1981 cost 90 francs, the equivalent of around 10 pounds today, but they were just as hard to come by.

"I remember fans coming up to me in the street in Liverpool and they'd ask in their Scouse accent, 'have you got any spares?'" McDermott said. "A couple of the younger lads thought they were asking for Spurs and had the wrong team. It's all you'd hear for days."

Liverpool's players flew to France on Aer Lingus, the team's lucky airline, with family, friends and journalists packed into the back. Bob Paisley, the coach, sat at the front.

"He wasn't much of a talker -- 'just go out and enjoy it' he'd say," McDermott recalled, putting on his best Durham accent. "And we did, three times."

So what advice would Paisley have given for facing a player like Ronaldo?

"Oh he wouldn't have worried much about him," McDermott said. "He would have talked about his weaknesses - 'he never cuts inside, never uses his left foot', that sort of thing. But most of all he'd just make you believe you could do it."

- 'Klopp's different' -

Perhaps Jurgen Klopp will be saying something similar to Trent Alexander-Arnold in Kiev on Saturday evening, although restraint is not quite the German's style.

"They're two great managers but this boy now is a bit different," McDermott said. "He's inspirational, the way he kicks every ball, makes every tackle. Paisley used to sit in the stand and watch with the chairman."

Paisley was disgruntled before kick-off, as a sponsoring mix-up meant UEFA officials came into Liverpool's changing room and told the players to cover up the Umbro badge on their kits.

"There we were, moments before the biggest game in football, sticking elastoplasts on each other's shirts," McDermott said. "A few of the lads said, 'I'm not doing that' - but they said we wouldn't be allowed to play. A few of us took them off on the pitch."

Kennedy's goal, an angled shot rifled into the far corner, settled a scruffy match, but that did nothing to dampen Liverpool's celebrations, which began in Paris' Moulin Rouge and ended in St George's Square in Liverpool.

"We had a lot of beers and some of the lads went to the Moulin Rouge, most of them didn't get back until six or seven in the morning," McDermott said. "We got off the plane and there were coaches on the tarmac waiting to take us to St George's Square where all the fans were waiting.

"I've never seen anything like it and I never will again."

Except, 37 years later, he hopes Liverpool's current crop can pull off a repeat.

"I don't care about Real Madrid, I'm convinced if Liverpool play well, they'll win," McDermott said. "It's there for the winning in my opinion. It's their turn."