In one of the greatest ever FA Cup finals in the competition's history, Rafael Benitez's Liverpool clinched the trophy after a historic comeback against Alan Pardew's West Ham. Having gone two goals behind after 28 minutes, the Reds had it all to do in the remainder of the match. The difference, as has so often been the case for the Merseyside club in their recent history, proved to be their talismanic captain, Steven Gerrard. The Englishman scored a spectacular last-minute equaliser that will live long in the memory before Liverpool later won the FA Cup on penalties. So, let's take a look at where some of the members of that cup-winning team are now.
Pepe ReinaUpon looking back at the 2006 FA Cup final, Pepe Reina, the club's former shot-stopper, described his performance in the match as "horrible", as per the Liverpool Echo. In the Spaniard's defence, he would later redeem himself with a spectacular save in final minutes of the game and during the shoot-out. Following the contest, the Madrid-born goalkeeper spent another seven years on Merseyside before leaving for Napoli on loan in 2013.
Of those named in the squad for the FA Cup final in 2006, Reina is the only member who is still playing. The now 38-year-old spent the latter stages of the 2019-20 season on loan at Aston Villa from AC Milan, before then joining Lazio on a free transfer. At the time of writing, the experienced Spaniard is competing with Thomas Strakosha for a first-team spot at the Stadio Olimpico.
The former Liverpool captain, Gerrard, will forever be remembered as the hero of the 2006 FA Cup, that is, of course, unless you're a West Ham fan. The midfielder's performance was so inspirational that the match is now labelled as the Gerrard Final. At a time when the Reds looked down and out, the local talent scored his second of the match as he unleashed a fierce strike from range that sailed past Shaka Hislop in the 91st minute. The FA Cup final was one of seven trophies that the Scouser won with the Reds, and, after 17 years with his boyhood club, he left for LA Galaxy in 2015. After retiring at the end of the 2015-16 campaign, Gerrard became Liverpool's U-18s coach, before then taking on the job as Rangers' manager at Ibrox in April 2018. For those interested in the 40-year-old's reign in Scotland, an array of listed, bonus-offering UK makers at SBO.net cover the Scottish Premiership. They list the best in the UK and even have a dedicated betting app for those wanting to keep up-to-date. With free bet promotions at many platforms, prospective users can take advantage of sign-up offers while exploring extensive market offerings, including Rangers' chances of success both domestically and in Europe.
Xabi AlonsoWidely regarded as being one of the Premier League's best imports, Xabi Alonso enjoyed a trophy-laden career, including during his time on Merseyside. Although the Spaniard started the final against Pardew's side, he was substituted after 67 minutes as Benitez looked to change his system. Following the 2006 FA Cup triumph, Alonso spent three more years at Liverpool, ending his career with a five-year spell at Real Madrid and a three-year stint with Bayern Munich. In leaving Anfield for the Santiago Bernabeu, Alonso followed in the footsteps of Steve McManaman, who made the same move in 1999. After retiring, the now 38-year-old returned to Spain, where he became a U-14s coach for Los Blancos. As of November 6th, 2020, however, the World Cup-winning midfielder manages Real Sociedad B in the Segunda Division B.
A Team With Fighting Spirit That Will Never be Forgotten
Liverpool's FA Cup side in 2006 stared adversity in the face as they twice fell to a two-goal deficit. However, it's fitting of the club's never-say-die attitude that they fought to the very end before their beloved captain carried them over the line. For Liverpool, winning on penalties after a 3-3 draw had become familiar to them, after clinching the 2004-05 Champions League final against AC Milan in the same fashion.