Steven Gerrard lifted Liverpool’s first trophy for six years after a dramatic Carling Cup penalty shootout at Wembley on Sunday.
With the final against Cardiff ending 2-2, the England midfielder saw his opening penalty saved by Tom Heaton, but after Liverpool poked their noses in front thanks to Dirk Kuyt, Stewart Downing and Glen Johnson, Cardiff’s Anthony Gerrard - Steven’s cousin - dragged his effort wide.
The final capped an amazing day. Ryan Giggs marked his 900th game for Manchester United with the late winner at Norwich, Paul Scholes scoring the other goal in a 2-1 victory.
Earlier Theo Walcott, booed in the first half, scored twice as Arsenal came from two goals down to beat north London rivals Tottenham 5-2.
Amid Liverpool’s ecstasy, Jamie Carragher looked forward to more silverware, saying: ‘We’re still in the FA Cup and we want to come back here again. Let’s hope this is the first of many more. It’s been too long.’
Captain Gerrard understandably had sympathy for his cousin. He said: ‘It is always cruel when it goes to penalties. It was always going to be the case that one of us was going to be sad and one of us was going to be celebrating.
‘Obviously, I am delighted to have won the trophy but I feel for Anthony and Cardiff. It doesn’t matter what I say to him. I know that he will be down.’
Anthony was too devastated to speak after the game and made his way straight out, having been consoled by Steven on the pitch.
Kuyt had looked set to be Liverpool’s hero after he scored late in the second period of extra time to make it 2-1, but Ben Turner cancelled out the Dutchman’s goal in the dying seconds. Joe Mason had given Cardiff the lead in the first half only for Martin Skrtel to level on 60 minutes.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, who became the first man to have won every domestic honour as a player and manager, believes this success must herald a new era of dominance for the club.
He said: ‘We are delighted to have won the trophy and it was a difficult game for us. We deserved our first trophy in six years but we need to continue to work hard and see where it takes us.
‘We didn’t think six years ago that it would take us this long to win our next trophy. We have won it and we will really enjoy it. It has given us a wee flavour to come back and do it again.’
Liverpool owner John W Henry added: ‘Now we need to win the FA Cup. Realistically, the next step is to beat Stoke (in the quarter-finals). This is a great first step towards what we’re trying to accomplish.’
Kuyt, winning his first medal since arriving at Anfield in August 2006, said: ‘It’s incredible. This means so much to me.’
'I was very disappointed not to play longer than 15 minutes but I have to put that aside. I'm so happy to have scored the goal.
'The most important thing was we kept believing and in the end I think we deserved this trophy.'
Martin Skrtel, who brought Liverpool level at 1-1, hoped the Carling Cup would be followed by many more trophies.
'It was a great game in a beautiful stadium with an unbelievable atmosphere,' the defender said on Sky Sports 1. 'I think we deserved it. It wasn't easy because they equalised with two minutes to go, but we just tried to keep our heads up and we got it on penalties.
'I think everyone plays football for the trophies. This is the first one and I hope there will be more and more.'
Gerrard also admitted the club have to build on this success. 'We won't accept just this, we need more, we want more,' he added.
Cardiff boss Malky Mackay was beaming with pride despite his side's defeat.
'In extra time the way we came back... I'm so proud of them, so very, very proud of them,' he said on BBC1.
'For most of them it's the first time they've been anywhere near something like this. They are very young. The emotions are running through them.
'You've got two teams who have put everything into the game today and I'm very proud of my team.'