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Midfielder was unfortunate enough to score at the wrong end in the Reds' last Carling Cup final appearance, and wants to put things right in Sunday's showpiece against Cardiff

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has revealed that he is still haunted to this day by the own-goal he scored in the Reds' 3-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the 2005 League Cup final.

As his side get ready for their first trip to Wembley since 1996, Gerrard reflected on one of the few major lowpoints of his career at the club.

The 31-year-old has appeared in a number of finals and more often than not been on the winning side, that famous, iconic comeback in Istanbul against AC Milan and the 3-3 draw in the FA Cup final with West Ham - when Gerrard equalised with a 90th minute thunderbolt - immediately springing to mind.

The 2005 Carling Cup final was, though, a completely different matter. Then Blues' manager Jose Mourinho's interest in bringing Gerrard to Stamford Bridge had been well documented, and ironically, it was his own-goal eleven minutes from time which sparked a Chelsea comeback to secure victory.

“It was a nightmare. I felt suicidal,” Gerrard told The Daily Telegraph.

“It was bad, one of the worst days I have had, especially against Chelsea. I was linked with them for a while before that cup final.

"Then to go and score an own goal – there were Liverpool fans who probably thought I meant it at the time – and to get the defeat was a nightmare too, for me and the team.

"I very rarely go back to [those cup final defeats of] 2005 and Chelsea, or 2007 and AC Milan. They mean nothing to me, getting to those finals. The memories I like thinking about are the ones when I came away as a winner.”

The 2006 FA Cup final represents Liverpool's last piece of silverware; they went down the following year to a Pippo Inzaghi-inspired AC Milan in the Champions League final and the glory days of the club now seem a fairly distant memory.

Liverpool's recent history, between the euphoria of Istanbul and the FA Cup win and this weekend's match, has not been all rosy.

No cup final appearances, just one top-two finish and various goings-on off the pitch may have left the former England captain slightly disillusioned about the prospects of the club moving forward.

“There were days when you wondered will I ever get to a major cup final or will I experience more success as a Liverpool player,” he said.

“Going back to the time under George Gillett and Tom Hicks, you suffer a defeat at Anfield and then go out to do a warm down, and there are thousands singing and shouting to get the owners out. Not good. Now the atmosphere is completely different.

“The experience and hurt from the lows helps you to get to places like this final, and to have good memories.

”When you win a trophy you don’t imagine it will be your last for six years, do you? You hope you’re involved in cup finals straight after, which we were in the 2007 Champions League, but that never went according to plan. It shows how difficult it is to win a major trophy."

With the emergence of Manchester City and Tottenham, Gerrard is aware of the task Liverpool face not just to break into the top four, but to continue striving for trophies.

"It will get more and more difficult moving forwards. After the long period without a trophy, it becomes even more important to win one.”

The 2001 League Cup final holds fond memories for Gerrard; the 5-4 penalty win over Birmingham represented his first silverware at the club.

That trophy would prove to be an important one in the club's recent history as it sparked a five-year run in which Liverpool won everything except the Premier League.

Gerrard hopes that a win tomorrow could prove the boost the club needs and be a catalyst for bringing the glory days back to Anfield.

“The feeling is quite similar to 2001. Before we won the treble [League Cup, FA Cup, Uefa Cup] we were improving slowly and I think that’s what is happening here. The new players are settling in well and getting better. The team is growing.

“I think we are a little bit further away than that 2001 team, and it’s a lot more difficult now to win the league. There was not really a Chelsea or a City about. There were probably three major forces in the league and there are five or six now. We are still a little bit off that, but winning the cup competitions gives you the belief and confidence and if you can keep adding to what you’ve got, and keep improving.

“It’s been so long since 2006, too long for a club this size, so it would be really big. The important thing if we do win is not to rest on it, but to get back to winning ways in the league and try to deliver another Wembley visit in the FA Cup.

“I was thinking that when I was at Cardiff for cup finals, I was slightly gutted they were not at Wembley because when you’re growing up you want to walk up those steps and lift the cup.”

The arrival of Kenny Dalglish, new ownership under John W Henry and Tom Werner and a new sense of direction have lifted the club and a first trophy in six years would go a long way to enhancing Kenny Dalglish's aura at the club even more.

“This time last year the season was over, there was a lot of doom and gloom around the place,” said Gerrard. "Kenny coming in gave everyone a big lift and slowly brought a bit of belief and confidence back.

"We have improved over the year. At the start of the season the plan was to go on long cup runs and get into the top four, so everything at the moment is looking good. He is a lot closer to the players, he’s a very good man-manager.

"I don’t think there’s a problem with managers who are distant. I have worked with managers who handle players differently. With Kenny it’s more like he still thinks he’s a player, still trying to get a game on the training ground, still laughing and joking with the players.

"But from a serious point of view, he’s very loyal and honest with the players and that’s all you can ask for.

"When you’re a player and go out on to the pitch, you want to deliver something back for him, which we have done by getting to the Carling Cup final. We want to do the same in the FA Cup, and to get to May with two trophies in the bag and a top-four finish would be a dream season for us in Kenny’s first full year.”

The talismanic Reds midfielder believes the last year has ranked amongst the toughest during his time in the Premier League for various reasons, but a win over the Bluebirds would vindicate all of Gerrard's effort dedicated to returning from injury.

“I’m even more excited because of the year I have had. It has been the toughest of my career so far,” he says.

“Tough days in the gym, days when I had to dig in when you know you’re out with a groin injury, then to come back and get an ankle injury, both major ones. I had some lows but it was all to get back and experience days like this.

“You don’t stop believing. You always need to have confidence things will turn around. Of course, you have to back it up. It’s all right talking the talk, but you have to go out there and deliver.”

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