Defender Alvaro Arbeloa watched from the bench as Real Madrid were crowned European champions for a 10th time in May but admits his toughest moment in the competition came as a Liverpool player.
The full-back returns to Anfield this week five years after he left to return to his native Spain and admits the place has fond memories for him.
However, the crushing disappointment of losing the 2007 Champions League final to AC Milan, when he came on as a late substitute, remains his lowest point.
"Suffering injuries is hard but one of the most difficult moments for me was the defeat in the final in Athens with Liverpool," said the 31-year-old, who was allowed to move to the Bernabeu for just £3.5million in 2009 despite becoming Real's first-choice right-back for a number of subsequent seasons.
"I've lost in the semi-finals four times but I always thought about the missed opportunity in Athens.
"Going back to Liverpool after five years will be very special. I spent two wonderful years there and I got used to a new culture.
"I grew a lot, both as a player and as a person. It will be great but not just for me: I have told my team-mates to enjoy the match at Anfield as much as possible.
"Champions League nights and big games like this one at Anfield are very special.
"We're going to be up against a team that will come out to fight to the last and will give everything, because they need to win too."
Arbeloa's Liverpool debut came in the famous 2-1 Champions League win against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in 2007, when he was played out of position at left-back to negate Lionel Messi.
"It was my first game in the starting line-up and my debut in the Champions League," he told uefa.com.
"What more can you ask, having come up through the ranks of the Real Madrid youth system, than to make your debut at the Camp Nou and win there?
"It was a magic, special night, playing for a great club and wearing the shirt of the European champions. We played a fantastic match."
QPR 2 Liverpool 3 player ratings
QPR 2 Liverpool 3 player ratings
1/22 QPR: Alex McCarthy
Did a solid job deputising for Rob Green – little he could do about any of Liverpool’s goals. 6/10
2/22 Nedum Onuoha
Hardly tested during the first half before going off with an injury. 6
3/22 Richard Dunne
At fault for the Reds’ opener – didn’t adjust his feet quickly enough and turned Sterling’s effort into his own goal. 5
4/22 Steven Caulker
Scored the match-winning goal… at the wrong end. Unfortunate, having worked hard to keep his side in touch as Liverpool threatened to run away with the game having gone 1-0 up. 5
5/22 Yun Suk-Young
Solid performance apart from losing concentration for Liverpool’s opener – defended capably and provided width down the left as QPR dominated the first half – should keep his starting place. 6
6/22 Mauricio Isla
A real threat down the right in the first half, forced to move backwards by Onuoha’s withdrawal at half-time. 6
7/22 Karl Henry
Bullish performance in the centre of midfield. Bullied his more illustrious opponents at times. 7
Influential for 60 minutes before going off injured – his departure coincided with Liverpool taking control of the game. 7
9/22 Leroy Fer
Should have given his side the lead in the first half as he twice hit the bar with great chances – aside from that played well. 6
10/22 Bobby Zamora
The captain’s physicality was a threat to the Liverpool defence right from the opening moment – laid on chances for Austin and Fer that should have been taken. 8
11/22 Charlie Austin
A threat to the Liverpool defence throughout, could have got himself on the score sheet, but did well to set up Vargas’ first. 7
12/22 Liverpool: Simon Mignolet
Another shaky performance – made some good saves but looked extremely vulnerable at times. 5/10
13/22 Glen Johnson
Looked a little rusty on his return to the starting XI from injury – helped prevent a goal with some last ditch defending in the first half and crossed for Dunne’s own goal. 6
14/22 Martin Skrtel
The enforcer of Liverpool’s back four was completely bullied by Zamora and can count himself fortunate (or unfortunate) if he keeps his starting place against Real Madrid on Wednesday. 5
15/22 Dejan Lovren
Unable to handle the inspired Zamora until he went off – unconvincing. 5
16/22 Jose Enrique
Caused a lot of trouble by Isla in the first half – unable to impact the game going forward. 5
17/22 Jordan Henderson
One of few Liverpool players who could be reasonably satisfied with his performance. His mixture of effort and quality helped to keep the Reds in the game as they struggled in the first half. 7
18/22 Emre Can
Making his first Premier League start, the German U21 international failed to stamp his authority on the game and was replaced by Joe Allen soon after the hour mark. 5
19/22 Raheem Sterling
It wasn’t his finest game, but his decisive impact speaks for itself. Played a part in all of Liverpool’s goals and can now looking forward to taking on Real Madrid on Wednesday. 7
20/22 Steven Gerrard
Pushed into a more advanced role in the first half, he was anonymous until almost giving his side the lead just before the break – a bit better when dropping deeper in the second half. 5
21/22 Adam Lallana
Gradually working his way back to full fitness, the England man struggled to get involved during the first half but his shot did lead to Balotelli’s big chance. Went off soon after the hour mark. 5
22/22 Mario Balotelli
He didn’t deserve to be on the winning side. Spurned two great opportunities and generally didn’t look after possession very well. 4
Real go into Wednesday's game top of Group B, after winning their first two matches, with the pressure on their hosts after a disappointing defeat in Basel last time out.
Real are likely to be without Gareth Bale because of a buttock muscle injury.
A statement on the club's website read: "After tests carried out on Gareth Bale by the Real Madrid Sanitas medical services he has been diagnosed with a muscular injury in the right pyramidalis muscle. His progress will be monitored."
However, his absence will not lesson Real's attacking potency with the free-scoring Cristiano Ronaldo set to take centre stage.
"There's no doubt that Cristiano is the best player in the world at the moment," said Arbeloa.
"He is a great professional and a player who improves every day. No-one can imagine what he does.
"Training and playing with him helps you to grow and improve. For us, it's a privilege to have Cristiano with us."
- More about:
- Liverpool FC