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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK
Lawrenson recalls Heysel nightmare
By Mark Lawrenson
BBC Sport football expert

I woke up in a ward with 24 beds in it - and I was the only one there
Mark Lawrenson
Watch BBC Two's Heysel documentary
Sunday 17 April 2100 BST

Liverpool's European Cup final against Juventus in 1985 was a tragic night - and for me an almost surreal one.

I actually ended the night in hospital after lasting only three minutes of the game itself because of a dislocated shoulder.

I have never seen a second of the game on video ever and have no inclination to do so. It's probably because I don't want anything to do with it.

When old Liverpool players who were involved meet up, it is never mentioned.

This is not being disrespectful in any way, it is perhaps just a sign of what a terrible night it was when people died as the result of going to watch a football match.

One of the first bad signs I recall was seeing segregation at the Liverpool end of the ground - and not very good segregation at that.

I felt it was very strange and wondered why Liverpool's fans did not have the whole end to themselves.

It has since emerged that people at Liverpool did have serious concerns about the ground, but my own view at the time was that if they had agreed to play the European Cup Final there it must be fine.

Sadly, the club were proved right because clearly there were flaws in the stadium and in the organisation.

We subsequently heard there were terrible problems and people had died, but the chief of police came into the dressing room and insisted we play.

He felt there may be even more problems if we didn't play, and you could not argue with that advice or logic if that was what he felt, no matter how irrelevant you regarded a football match as being after lives were lost.

The strange part is that because we didn't know what time we were going out, we sat around trying to do normal things.

Some of the lads were reading the programme, a few had their heads down playing cards - the atmosphere was almost surreal.

As for the game itself, my involvement was incredibly brief.

I had been struggling with a disclocated shoulder and I knew I was going for an operation, but the manager Joe Fagan was happy for me to play.

He said in the build-up to the game: "What's the worst that can happen - your shoulder will pop out and we'll replace you?"

It did pop out almost as soon as the game started and I was on my way to hospital after a couple of minutes.

I woke up in a ward with 24 beds in it and I was the only one in there. I still had my full kit on apart from my boots.

My shoulder wouldn't go back, so they'd had to operate and needed to rip my kit open to do it.

I can't see Liverpool winning over two legs against Fabio Capello's side
Mark Lawrenson

There was also a guard at the door, because obviously I had my Liverpool kit on and lots of Italian people were around because of the casualties being treated at the hospital.

It was a surreal experience as well as a very tragic one. It was something that you almost didn't feel part of, even though you were.

Even three or four months later there was a feeling of numbness. It was still hard to get over the fact that so many people had died because they went to watch a football match.

And now the memories come back with the two teams being drawn together in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Tuesday night will be a very special night, high on the emotion of the occasion and also because of the importance of the game.

There have been great European nights at Anfield, and this will be right up there with them.

I don't know how many Juventus fans will be at the game, but I'm sure they will all be treated regally.

As for the game itself, I'm afraid I just can't see Liverpool getting through against Fabio Capello's side.

Liverpool have got so many injuries, and are also up against a team that is so strong defensively.

If I was involved with Liverpool, I'd take a 1-0 win or even 0-0 from the first leg, but Juventus won't be worried by coming to Anfield and will certainly back themselves over two legs.

There have been some strange results in the Champions League this season, but I don't see it happening here.

Juventus will have great respect for Liverpool, but they will just grind on and on until they get the result they require.




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