Australia international Mark Bosnich admits he misses the pulse and glamour of the big games in Europe more than a decade after defying mighty Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Bosnich, now 41, stopped playing for Chelsea in the Premier League in 2003 after he failed a drug test and was forced to retire.
He has since carved a successful career as a television pundit in Australia.
He is as far removed from the pressure-cooker atmosphere of top class European football as can be.
But with the round of the 16 of the UEFA Champions League on its way and one of his former clubs Manchester United away to Madrid on Thursday (AEDT) in a titanic clash that has captured the imagination of millions of fans worldwide, memories of great European nights are flooding back to Bosnich.
He can feel the adrenalin rushing through his veins same as it used to do when he was the peak of his powers.
”Of course I miss the big nights, especially those in the Champions League,” Bosnich said.
”Every footballer dreams of such big occasions.
”But, hey, I'm doing the next best thing, which is working as a television pundit.”
Fox Sports commentator Bosnich said he has mixed memories of an epic Champions League quarter-final tie between Madrid and his United team in April 2000.
”We were world and European champions then but Madrid had a great side too with players like Roberto Carlos, Raul Gonzales, Fernando Redondo, Fernando Morientes and Steve McManaman.
(Bosnich with Real Madrid's star defender Roberto Carlos after the match... Action)
”It was a fantastic game in Madrid and both teams had chances and the real surprise was that it remained goalless, really.
”Zero-zero did not truly reflect the quality of play from both sides.
”We did very well to get a draw and I'd like to think that I played my part in front of a packed house at the Bernabeu.
”That match was most definitely one of the highlights of my career because I was playing with and against some of the world's best players.”
Bosnich's heroics in goal that night were not lost on the world's football media.
(Bosnich gets the better of Real Madrid attacker Ivan Helguera... Action)
'Bosnich passes Spanish inquisition', screamed the Guardian while the Mirror wrote: 'Had it not been for Bosnich, United would be facing an ignominious exit because Madrid battered them with some wonderful, flowing football. Only Bosnich stood in their way. He stood up to them. Two saves from McManaman were world class. One from Karanka defied belief.”
The New York Times put it simply: 'Bosnich saves Manchester United'.
Bosnich is too modest to dwell on his dazzling display that night when Madrid threw everything at the away team bar the kitchen sink.
”Forget my performance, it was a team effort and Iker Casillas in Madrid's goal played well too,” Bosnich said.
”However I would have to say that that period in my career was probably the best.
”I also did well in Tokyo a few months earlier in the World Club Championship against Palmeiras of Brazil and in a match against Leeds a few days before the match in Madrid.”
(Bosnich diffuses a dangerous situation during a goal mouth scramble... Getty)
Bosnich was the victim of an internal bungle before the return with Madrid at Old Trafford and did not play.
He was asked to undergo two consecutive gym sessions by United's conditioners and he suffered a hernia that would keep him out of the game he so desperately wanted to play in, if for nothing else than to prove his worth to manager Alex Ferguson, who sometimes complained that the Australian was inconsistent.
With Dutchman Raymond van der Gouw in goal, United lost 3-2 in a match that would be remembered for a master class from Redondo.
United's European reign was over and Madrid went on to beat Bayern Munich in the semis and Valencia in an all-Spanish final.
Bosnich said the 2012-2013 edition of Manchester United is strong enough to go all the way and win its fourth European title if it overcomes its Spanish nemesis.
”If they beat Madrid they can go on and win it, definitely,” Bosnich said.
”United have a very strong attack because Robin van Persie has given them a new dimension while defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are on their way back.
”On the other hand Madrid will be without Casillas who is out for two months and they have had some internal problems this season.
”I think United will get the better of Madrid, actually.”
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