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Last Updated:  Sunday, 2 March, 2003, 18:48 GMT
Houllier 'predicted Dudek triumph'
Liverpool celebrate with champagne
Liverpool celebrate with champagne
Gerard Houllier claimed he had a premonition that goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek would be the hero of the Worthington Cup final.

The Polish goalkeeper earned the man-of-the-match award after a series of superb saves during Liverpool's 2-0 defeat of Manchester United.

Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen scored the goals as Liverpool won the Worthington Cup for the second time in three years but Dudek was the name on everyone's lips.

In December the goalkeeper had gifted Man Utd victory when he let Diego Forlan score a soft goal but he is back in the team because of an injury to Chris Kirkland.

And he enjoyed a renaissance at the Millennium Stadium - as predicted by his manager.

He congratulated every Liverpool player after the final whistle and that shows that he is not just a great manager but a great man
Houllier on Ferguson

"I told Jerzy three days ago 'I can feel you will be the hero. You were too unlucky when we played them'," said Houllier.

"Today he was man of the match. But football can be like that. Sometimes you can be at the bottom and then be a hero again.

"I just had a feeling. I'm a great believer that when you have the right attitude everything else follows. He had a good run after the World Cup but then he made some mistakes and we had to support him.

"The squad get on very well. There was no finger-pointing after that game. He has saved us before in games and we had to keep faith in him."

Houllier's praise was echoed by opposing manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Their goalkeeper has won them the game," said the Man Utd chief.

"Sometimes you just have to put your hands up on these occasions. Dudek has won them the cup. He deserved to be man of the match.

"We didn't get a break. Dudek's performance encouraged them to stay near their penalty box.

"In tough games like that the first goal is very important. It's a test for us. We can either accept defeat or we can fight back.

"Games between Manchester United and Liverpool are always big games and there is tremendous pressure on everyone. I thought the first half was poor but when the first goal went in it turned into an engaging cup final."

Houllier insisted, however, that the victory did not mean Liverpool had caught Man Utd up.

"They are a bit ahead of us still but it is a great moment. We did it for ourselves, of course, and our families and friends, but we also did it for the fans."

Houllier also reserved some praise for Ferguson.

"I wished him the best in the Champions League because he represents the best in English football," said the Liverpool boss.

"He congratulated every Liverpool player after the final whistle and that shows that he is not just a great manager but a great man."

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"We were strong and solid"

Man Utd captain Roy Keane
"We created chances but didn't take them"



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