Czech Republic striker Milan Baros linked up with Liverpool in 2002 from Banik Ostrava, arriving with a reputation as one of the most exciting young talents in European football. Just three years later he helped the Reds to lift their fifth European Cup in Istanbul.
Now 33 years old, last season Baros was back in the Czech top flight with boyhood club Banik Ostrava, returning home after a career which also saw him turn out for Aston Villa, Lyon, Portsmouth, Galatasaray and Antalyaspor. This summer he signed for Mlada Boleslav, who finished fourth in the Czech top flight in 2014/15.
At international level he scored 41 goals in 93 appearances for the Czech Republic and was the top scorer at Euro 2004 with five goals.
Inside Futbol sent John Georgopoulos for an exclusive chat with the former Liverpool striker.
Inside Futbol (IF): Your Liverpool debut came away at Barcelona. What was it like to go from playing for Banik Ostrava to suddenly playing at the Camp Nou for one of the world's biggest clubs?
Milan Baros (MB): I came from the Czech league as a young player and I had to learn a lot of things about the football [in England]. During the first eight months I played only one game in the Champions League and it was at the Nou Camp against Barcelona. It was a fantastic debut for me and great motivation to work harder at the club.
IF: When Liverpool played Olympiacos in that crucial Champions League group game at Anfield in 2005, you came off with the score at 1-1. Did you have any feeling Liverpool could score two more goals?
MB: It was a key game for us and I felt that we were able to win it and go to the next round. We were lucky of course, because Neil Mellor and Steven Gerrard scored our goals in the last ten minutes.
IF: What were the moments in that famous run you thought Liverpool might go out? Juventus away? When Chelsea were attacking near the end in the semi-final?
MB: The semi-final game was probably the hardest. Chelsea played very good football, but we scored a quick winning goal, which made the final difference between both teams.
IF: In the final itself, did you have belief you could come back from 3-0 down at half time against AC Milan? Had it ever happened before in your career?
MB: When you go in at half time to the dressing room and you are 3-0 down, you probably think that winning the game is something impossible. We were sitting in the dressing room and we were really very sad. We were thinking about how to score at least one goal for our fans, who had been travelling a long way to Istanbul. But you know, we scored very soon in the second half and after a few minutes the score was 3-3.
Then we were lucky in extra time and we came to penalties. Jerzy Dudek made great saves and he won the trophy for us. He was a big part of our success. Yes, it was something which may only happen once in a hundred years.
IF: When you left Liverpool in 2005, were you happy with what you had achieved at the club?
MB: Yes, I was happy because I won the Champions League with Liverpool and this is the biggest success in my career.
IF: You joined Aston Villa after winning the Champions League. Was it an easy decision to stay in England? Did you have other offers?
MB: Yes, it was quite an easy decision because it was always my dream to play in the Premier League when I was a kid. I´m happy that I made it and I´m also happy that I could spend six years in the Premier League. Other offers didn´t play an important time in that time when I joined Aston Villa.
IF: You also played for Galatasaray and Antalyaspor in Turkey. What was your experience of Turkish football? And your highlights of playing in the country?
MB: When I heard about the interest from Galatasaray I was a bit scared of going to Turkey at first. There were a few Czech players and they didn´t make good careers there; they only stayed several months and after that they left the country.
But I said that Galatasaray are a big club who always plays for the Turkish title and plays in the Champions League, so at the beginning I was a bit scared, but later it was amazing. I spent four years there and I´m so happy that I could stay in Istanbul. You know, we won the Turkish league, I scored many goals and it was really a good time for me over there.
IF: What are your thoughts of Liverpool's last season and the heavy criticism they have received after spending over £100m and finishing sixth?
MB: All the fans and of course also all the people at the club expected better results in the current season, but Liverpool have a lot of young players who can reach the peak of their performance in the next years.
IF: Steven Gerrard, who you played with at Anfield, left Liverpool to join Los Angeles Galaxy this summer. What are your memories of playing with him? Do you have a message for him?
MB: I have only the best memories of playing with Steven. He is still a famous player for me and belongs to the group of the best players that I met during my career.
IF: Rafael Benitez, your former boss at Liverpool, has taken over at Real Madrid. How did you find him as a manager? Do you think he suits Real Madrid?
MB: I find Rafa Benitez a successful manager, who can do good work at Real Madrid. Of course, that club is the biggest challenge for everyone, but I think that he will be able to succeed.