May, 1997. The UEFA Champions League final, Munich.
70 minutes gone. Karl-Heinz Riedle had put underdogs Borussia Dortmund two goals to the good against Juventus, the first from a cross by Paul Lambert who had kept the great Zinedine Zidane relatively quiet all evening. But Alessandro Del Piero's backheel had halved the deficit. Then Dortmund coach Ottmar Hitzfeld threw on Lars Ricken...
Ricken's wondergoal was unforgettable, and Riedle went on to become something of a cult hero for my friends and I during our first year at university in Liverpool (even if he spent most of the time on the Reds bench).
Yet equally memorable for me were the swathes of yellow and black in the Olympiastadion stands that celebrated Dortmund's win so wildly. At that time, in my formative football years, I was yet to experience a truly great European night at Anfield, Liverpool being in the doldrums until my final year in 2000/01. With their flags, scarves, songs and particularly that unique colour combination, Dortmund fans just seemed different.
So earlier this month, I realised an ambition held for almost 15 years - a trip to Dortmund's Westfalenstadion (or Signal Iduna Park, for those who like stadium sponsorship deals and/or insurance companies). The seven-time German champions (most recently last season) were taking on in-form Mainz at their 80,720-capacity arena, and I was told goosebumps were guaranteed - along with significant quantities of 'bier und würst'.
Match tickets can be secured with relative ease; they go on sale online about a month before each Bundesliga fixture. As they're top of the table again and in a title battle with Bayern Munich, the 'sold out' sign goes up fairly rapidly at Dortmund but with speed and timing to rival that of Ricken himself, I was online at 7am on a Monday morning, credit card to hand. Drawing upon my reserves of GCSE German (grade B), I grabbed four at £35 each in the Nordtribune - directly opposite the famous terrace - to collect at the ground on the day. Many ticket purchasing experiences on the internet are usually spent hitting the buffers, or crashing - you won't be surprised to learn it's Vorsprung durch Technik all the way with Dortmund.
From the UK, the only direct budget airline flights to Dortmund are from Luton with Easyjet. For our base, my friends and I headed to Düsseldorf - reachable for around £80 return on average (including taxes) on a Friday evening from Leeds Bradford with Jet2, whose slate grey Boeings are the ones proudly labelled 'YORKSHIRE' in huge red letters. Düsseldorf airport is situated in the north of the city, and is on the main railway line between the city's central station and that of Dortmund, which lies about an hour away to the north-east. Try to avoid flights to Düsseldorf Weeze airport, one of those cunningly named European airports that's almost 100km away from the city it's named after, in this case near the Dutch border.
Perhaps appropriately for the birthplace of the electronic band Kraftwerk, Düsseldorf gave off a distinct 80s vibe on arrival - whether it be some of the interesting fashions in the beautiful old Zum Uerige beerhall, or the fact Kavinsky's Nightcall (from the Drive movie soundtrack) was playing on the radio when I caught a cab. Friday night food and drink, however, was more traditional hearty fare - a giant pork knuckle, mashed potato and sauerkraut at Zum Schlussel, and the local Altbier (like a darker, fruitier lager) in bars along Ratinger Strasse.
A Saturday evening kick-off in Dortmund allowed some time for cultural pursuits (Düsseldorf boasts several impressive art galleries) before we caught the train for the main event. One attraction that Dortmund will have to offer in the coming years is the new German Football Museum - it's set to open in 2014 in the heart of the city and is sure to attract match-going day trippers like ourselves. Among the exhibits already donated are a blue cashmere jumper worn by Jogi Low at the 2010 World Cup and considering the national team's success down the years, an item of iconic knitwear suggests a refreshing diversion from endless cabinets of trophies and medals.
The Westfalenstadion is about 10 minutes from Dortmund's Hauptbahnhof by train or U-Bahn. A sizeable police presence was there to greet us, and many fans of the home team appeared quite drunk - but they mingled happily with the Mainz supporters. I grabbed some items from the club shops, including a couple of BVB rubber ducks but I couldn't match the spending of certain other customers. With Japan striker Shinji Kagawa a huge star at Dortmund and a big Japanese community living in Düsseldorf, sales were brisk - one Kagawa fan queueing in front of me bought close to 20 T-shirts of his hero.
Having picked up our tickets, it was time to grab some refreshments. Here, money must be loaded onto a pre-pay card before you can buy anything at the kiosks (slightly annoying, but it does save time). Prices are far more reasonable than in the UK, and the range more satisfying - mini pizzas were our choice - plus you can take beers into the stands, in plastic beakers adorned with various Dortmund players. It's surprising this approach to matchday catering hasn't caught on in England yet, to be honest.
Back in 2009, The Times' Tony Evans drew up his list of the world's best stadiums and he placed the Westfalenstadion at the very top. I've been to most of the biggest football grounds in Europe before (the new Wembley several times, and I've also chalked off the Nou Camp, the Bernabeu and the Stade de France) but there's more to Dortmund's home than just its size. The noise generated from the stands is awesome, particularly the Sudtribune terrace - an area known as the 'Yellow Wall' that is standing room only for 25,000 people, and which bounces up and down in rippling waves whenever the mood takes them.
They certainly make you feel welcome at Dortmund - take Mainz striker Mohamed Zidan, for example, given rapturous applause, flowers and even artwork before kick-off on his return to his former club (see photo in gallery above). The volume rose through two anthems - Leuchte Auf Mein Stern Borussia (to the tune of Amazing Grace) and You'll Never Walk Alone.
For the game itself, Dortmund were missing their young star Mario Gotze through injury, and skipper Sebastian Kehl through suspension, but others stepped up to the plate. Jakub Blaszczykowski - aka Kuba - scored a superb opener after good work from Kagawa, who netted the winner shortly after Mainz had equalised through Zidan (who else?) Other stand-out performers on the night were two young Germany internationals - winger Kevin Grosskreutz and central midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, while Poland right-back Lukas Piszczek provided more width with some marauding runs down the right, claiming an assist for Kagawa's goal. Dortmund pressed superbly and ended the match with 62% possession. They had 18 shots but only five on target - Robert Lewandowski was rather wasteful on the night - but deserved their win, an eighth straight victory which stretched their unbeaten run to 18 games. It's no wonder coach Jurgen Klopp's name has been linked with the Chelsea vacancy in recent weeks.
The mutual respect between the teams was evident at the final whistle - Klopp's previous job was at Mainz, after all - and the players spent a long time on the pitch at the end, showing gratitude to the fans.
The rest of our weekend was spent back in Düsseldorf, which is an ideal location to aim for when planning a Bundesliga weekend - Schalke, Monchengladbach, Leverkusen and Koln are all in the vicinity. In addition, the local team Fortuna are pushing hard to re-join the elite as well - they play in the 54,500-capacity Esprit Arena, the biggest outside the top-flight. Wladimir Klitschko was fighting there while we were in town, while ice hockey fans had the option of seeing the DEG Metro Stars take on Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg - the latter being one of the best sports teams names I've heard for some time.
As for Borussia Dortmund, they're best summed up by one of the club's slogans - 'Echte Liebe', or True Love. You can't fail to be swept up by the passion of their home support and the spectacle they create, even for a relatively straightforward league game. The world's best atmosphere? It's impossible to say for sure, but there's no way you'll ever forget it.
You can follow Jon on Twitter at @jonboy79.