Bruce Grobbelaar made Roma wobble with his famous ‘spaghetti legs’ antics in the 1984 European Cup final and the former Liverpool goalkeeper has backed his old club to make the Italians suffer again in the Champions League semi-finals.
Liverpool hosts Roma in the last four first leg tomorrow and the match-up has rekindled memories of Grobbelaar’s memorable contribution to its fourth European Cup triumph 34 years ago.
Grobbelaar spent 13 years with Liverpool, winning six First Division titles, three FA Cups and three League Cups, but his most famous moment came on a spring evening in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
After a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the final against Roma, a nerve-jangling penalty shoot-out stood between Liverpool and another European Cup — and that was Grobbelaar’s cue to take centre stage.Grobbelaar, talking to himself and biting the back of the net, did all he could to put off Roma’s Bruno Conti and it worked as he smashed their second penalty over the crossbar.
When Ian Rush scored Liverpool’s fourth, it was time for Grobbelaar to produce his party piece, wobbling his legs from side to side and letting his body go limp as if wracked by nerves.Francesco Graziani was left bewildered as he prepared to take the spot-kick and Grobbelaar’s gamesmanship paid off when the forward’s strike grazed against the top of the bar as it flew over.
Grobbelaar sprinted away clapping his hands in delight and, moments later, Liverpool were champions of Europe again when Alan Kennedy converted the decisive penalty.Now 60, Grobbelaar, who left Liverpool in 1994, still revels in his contribution to the against-the-odds victory in Roma’s own stadium.
“I just improvised it. I made my legs like spaghetti, even the goal looked like spaghetti, so I ate it up,” he said recently.“I am still laughing at that. The photographers went mad. I was winking and shaking my head. I paralysed Roma.”
Grobbelaar is confident Liverpool’s current crop — inspired by 41-goal star Mohamed Salah — can emulate that 1984 success.Salah, who joined Liverpool from Roma last year, is the key man for Jurgen Klopp’s team as they look to make their first Champions League final appearance since 2007 and win the competition for the first time since 2005.
Liverpool will win the semi-final and final too. Football was invented by the English, don’t forget,” Grobbelaar said.“Roma must have been mad to sell Mo Salah. Either that or they really needed the money.”