WHEN you get homesick nothing will stop you returning to the arms of those you love.
AC Milan had a few tricks up their sleeves to keep the European Cup away from her spiritual base. They tempted her with sublime skills, destructive finishing and a fairytale script, courtesy of their legendary captain.
Paolo Maldini wasn't just holding the trophy at halftime, he was planning his fifth acceptance speech.
What he never foresaw was the homing device triggered by 35,000 Liverpool fans in the Ataturk Stadium who inspired their side to transform the most humiliating night in their history to the most triumphant.
The European Cup didn't fancy Paolo. She wanted Steven but it took a series of remarkable chat-up lines from the Liverpool manager to ensure his skipper got his wicked way. The only reason Liverpool weren't fatally wounded by a first half blitz is the fortunate fact immortals can't be destroyed.
Gerrard and company have rewritten football "possibilities" throughout this campaign but even the heroic efforts of Olympiakos, Juventus and Chelsea were rendered insignificant compared to this.
It shouldn't have happened. Some of us aren't convinced it did. Only the pinch marks confirm it. We thought it was all over. It wasn't.
Liverpool fans faced a sickening dilemma. What do you do when your side is 3-0 down in the Champions League final to a side superior in every position?
Praying was one option. Another, which was rather attractive at half time last night, was to grab the nearest taxi back to Taksin Square and drink the night away trying to forget the embarrassment they had just suffered.
The other alternative, which one red-shirted gent decided was more favourable, was to start an impromptu rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone, drowned in the kind of sentimentality Liverpool's opponents find repulsive.
But the 35,000 didn't sing it with hope in their hearts, nor with fire in their bellies. It was poignant rather than passionate.
The tear in the eye wasn't one of joy but despair. A mere 45 minutes into a ceremony 21 years in preparation and a dream had died. As the second chorus faded Liverpool's players ran back onto the pitch to an astonishing ovation.
The cresendo of noise somehow injected volumes of self-belief into the hitherto drained souls. The inspirational orchestrator of the famous anthem had perfectly complimented Rafa Benitez's team talk.
He had inadvertently inspired the greatest fightback ever witnessed in any football stadium in any decade by any team ever. Okay, a few belated but painfully necessary tactical changes helped.
The previous manager's fatal mis-take in this competition was subbing Didi Hamman during a crucial European clash three years ago. Far more serious was the decision to omit him completely. Benitez made an astonishing gamble, abandoning caution for an attacking formation which backfired so hideously, the away end resembled a series of portraits of Edward Munch's The Scream.
Everything which could go wrong did, until Harry Kewell was injured.
Djini Traore endured a nightmare start, conceding possession and then a free kick which allowed Maldini to score in his seventh final.
Then Kewell, a surprising choice, pulled a muscle and limped out of his second showpiece of the season. Whether this was a blow or a blessing was debatable. The choice of Vladimir Smicer ahead of the overlooked anchorman, however, ensured the only immediate change was to Liverpool's detriment.
Not because of Smicer who gave the performance of a player who should be signing a new deal rather than waving goodbye, rather Liverpool's defence remained exposed.
The Reds pushed for an equaliser as if eight minutes remained, not 89. And they were duly punished. With no riot gear to protect them the defence was left bruised by the combined force of Kaka, Crespo and Shevchenko. Three-nil could have been five but for Luis Garcia's goal line clearance and a generous offside flag when Gerrard's tackle sent Shevchenko clean through.
"It's embarrassing," admitted Jamie Carragher later.
If a black hole had appeared in the centre circle some of the players would have dived into it, swiftly followed by the fans.
Halftime was a painkiller. Not losing by more than three represented a triumph.
What followed defied logic. If Elvis rose from the grave, brushed off his white suit and announced plans for a world tour we'd still say it wasn't as good a comeback as Liverpool's in Istanbul.
Freed by the essentially restored Didi Hamman, Gerrard started to advance. The most important cross of John Arne-Riise's life found the skipper's head.
Then Smicer matched his former nemesis thanks to Dida's careless dive. Yes, Smithy, Vlad has now scored a crucial European Cup goal just as you did!
The improbable was suddenly possible. By the time Gennaro Gattuso (the biggest culprit when it came to counting chickens at halftime) tripped Gerrard Liverpool were rampant. Gattuso should have seen red. Liverpool's equaliser at the second attempt from Xabi Alonso was an acceptable consolation.
But the momentum shifted back to Milan. The Reds looked like they had punched above their weight once too often. The only winner seemed destined to come from a white shirt with Shevchenko and the increasingly confident Dudek engaging in a personal duel.
When the Pole made an astonishing double save with two minutes of extra time remaining rumour had it the engraver started with an L on the famous trophy.
Penalties were still Liverpool's only hope. The spirit of 1984 was enacted. Dudek was the hero. What's likely to be his final appearance for Liverpool will sit comfortably alongside the images of Bruce Grobbelaar - although the Pole's weren't the only knees wobbling by this stage.
All that remained was for Gerrard to grab his prize.
The European Cup seemed to radiate a smile which beamed as broad as the skipper's face.
The dreams of the captain, the manager, the squad and fans were realised in a way the most elaborate fantasist couldn't have imagined.
Finally a new generation of Liverpool fans and players know how it feels to be no games from greatness.
And the European Cup is coming home.
Copyright Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo