Ok, so it's had it's fair share of duff one's, but having been graced by some of the finest footballing
talent on the planet, the European Cup Final has also conjured up some classic matches.
Time to reveal our favourite ten...
No. 1 2005 - Liverpool 3:3 AC Milan (3:2 pens) - Atturk Stadium (Istanbul, Turkey)
25th May 2007, the Atturk Stadium, Istanbul. A date and venue no Scouse fan will ever want to forget.
Liverpool's first Euro Cup final for over 20 years, and the players wanted to give the fans a night to remember,
they didn't disappoint.
But it all started so terribly wrong for Liverpool as they went one down in the first minute (the quickest ever
European Cup Final goal), with a sublime finish by the unmarked Maldini after a cross from Pirlo.
Twenty minutes later the injury-prone Kewell limped off, and was replaced by Smicer, things couldn't get worse
could they? Sorry, but yes. With Liverpool having no holding midfield player, Kaka was free to roam, and cause
havoc in the Liverpool ranks. Kaka was by far the best player in the 1st half and he made his free space count in
the last ten minutes of the half, sending Shevchenko on a run down the wing, who dually crossed for Crespo to
score. 2-nil Milan. Moments later a defence splitting pass found Crespo again, who delicately chipped the
onrushing Dudek with pinpoint accuracy, 3-1 down at half time - dead and buried many thought.
Come the second half, Benitez made a change, and brought on Hamman, who would change the fortunes of this amazing
game, by denying Kaka any of the ball. On 53 minutes, Riise crossed the ball, and a glancing header from
captain Gerrard found the back of the net. Two minutes later a speculative drive from Smicer crept into the
bottom corner after a desperate attempt from Dida to keep it out failed. Liverpool, now with the bit between
their teeth, and roared on by the fanatical Scousers could smell a third. Driven on by his fellow Scousers, Gerrard
made a fantastic run into the Milanese box, and was fouled by Gattuso, PENALTY!!. Up stepped Alonso, all
Liverpool held it's breath, he ran up, shot, and Dida saved, but Alonso followed up the rebound a stuck it in
the top corner. Jubilation, exhilaration, uncontrolled joy, for the red half of Liverpool.
Complete shock, bewilderment and sheer disbelief for the Italians.
In the space of seven minutes the game had spun on it's head, the rest of the second half was sheer cat and mouse,
with both sets of players stunned.
Extra-time was called for, now both teams were resilient and cagey, afraid of making a mistake.
The game was almost over when with three minutes left Dudek made an instinctive save from Shevchenko, who
followed up his header with a point blank shot and somehow Dudek deflected it over the bar.
Lady luck was certainly with Liverpool. Penalties was the outcome of such a scintillating game.
Serginho and Pirlo missed Milan's first two penalties, probably still not believing how it got to this situation,
while Hamann and Cisse scored for Liverpool. Tomasson put Milan back in it, then Riise missed for Liverpool.
Kaka scored for Milan, and after Smicer scored for Liverpool, Shevchenko's kick was saved by a goal line
flapping Dudek to spark wild scenes of ecstasy and celebration.
Captain Gerrard lifted the cup aloft, which having won it for a 5th time Liverpool got to keep.
Dudek - Finnan (Hamann 46) Traore Hyypia Carragher - Riise Gerrard Luis Garcia Alonso - Kewell (Smicer 23) Baros (Cisse 85)
Dida - Cafu Maldini Stam Nesta - Gattuso (Rui Costa 112) Seedorf (Serginho 86) Pirlo Kaka - Shevchenko, Crespo (Tomasson 85)
No.2 1960 - Real Madrid 7:3 Eintracht Frankfurt - Hampden Park (Glasgow, Scotland)
Hampden Park, Glasgow , May 18th 1960, and 127,621 witness one of the greatest games ever seen.
Puskas boasted before the game that 'Every man in our team is an attacker and we have the quality so many British
sides envy', adding that they always go out to score the early kill-off goal in every game.
However, it was the part-timers from Frankfurt who took the lead in the 18th minute through Kress.
Was a shock on the cards?
What was on the cards was a display of ultimate free playing, dynamic, and the most pleasurable football you could
ever dream of. With Real fielding a front line of Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento Eintracht were in for a very long night.
Di Stefano was in devastating form, and it was he who levelled the score, and maintained the incredible feat of
scoring in every final, 2 minutes later and he had a brace, and was now running the game with his superior
Puskas, playing in his first ever European Cup final, now showed his finishing power as he scored four goals.
The first a tight angled rocket, the second a penalty and then 2 typical clinical Puskas strikes, to give Real
a 6-1 lead with twenty minutes still on the clock. From the halfway line, Di Stefano played a one-two and bamboozled
2 players, got to the Frankfurt goal area, and cannoned a shot from 18 yards into Loy's goal to complete his
hat-trick. The Germans did score 2 more but had been totally outclassed and as the final whistle blew the crowd
showed their appreciation with a 45 minute ovation to the now 5 times in a row winners of the greatest club
competition in the world.
Dominguez - Marquitos Santamaria Pachin Zarraga Vidal - Canario Del Sol - Di Stefano Puskas Gento
Loy - Lutz Eigenbrodt Hofer - Weilbacher Stinka - Kress, Lindner, Stein, Pfaff Meier
No.3 1962 - Benfica 5:3 Real Madrid - Olympic Stadium (Amsterdam, Holland)
A crowd of 60,000 gathered in Amsterdam's Olympic Stadium for a mouth-watering clash between the young pretenders from Lisbon and the
dominating masters of the European Cup from Madrid. Few left disappointed.
Again 'The Blonde Arrow'
, Di Stefano, was expected to be the dominating figure in a cup final, alongside 'The Galloping Major'
Ferenc Puskas. Di Stefano, playing deeper in midfield, was the catalyst of everything Madrid did, setting up Puskas for two of his
three goals (one a 50 yard run). Did Benfica and their Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann have enough tactical nous about them to stop this one man show from controlling
the game? It didn't look like it at the midway point of the first half, with Real leading 2:0 through those Puskas goals.
However, Benfica, the reigning champions, were not going to let go of the trophy easily, and rallied back to 2:2 with a shot from their
new hero Eusebio hitting the post, and the rebound being poached by Jose Aguas. Aguas had a part to play in the equaliser as well,
his deflected shot hitting Domiciano Cavem to level things 11 minutes before the break. The first half fun wasn't over though, as Real
came back again, with Puskas claiming another hat-trick in the final, taking the Spaniards into a 3-2 lead at the interval.
Guttmann, Benfica's fine and astute coach, knew he had to do something to stop Di Stefano supplying Puskas with the ammunition,
so he directed Cavem to man mark him in the second half. The tactic worked wonders as Puskas was starved of the service he required.
Benfica now became more imposing and six minutes after the interval they were back on level terms with Mario Coluna's wonder strike
from 25 yards. Now it was Eusebio's turn to take centre stage from a tiring Di Stefano.
Twenty minutes into the 2nd half the Mozambique striker was brought down for a penalty, from which he scored.
Then, just three minutes later, he unleashed what was to become his trademark thunderbolt. The Black Pearl
Their was still plenty of time for Real to get back into it, and they had a decent shout for a penalty over-ruled, but that was the final
nail in the old master's coffin for a revival. Benfica, ending the game on a high, ran out 5-3 winners of a match that was later
dubbed 'the night of the long shots'
. It was a night that saw the beginning of one era (Benfica would contend 5 out of 8 finals),
and almost the ending of another (Real would win only one more title in the coming 30 years), so it was symbolic when Eusebio ran
half the length of the pitch to exchange shirts with Puskas, two true greats of the game at an epoch of time that will never be forgotten.
As Eusebio was carried shoulder high from the Amsterdam pitch by flag waving Benfica supporters, no-one could argue that they were
truly worthy of the accolade 'European Champions'.
A.Pereira - M.Joao Germano A.Martins D.Cavem - F.Cruz J.Augusto A.Simoes J.Aguas - M.Coluna Eusebio
J.Araquistain - P.Casado J.Santamaria V.Miera Felo - Pachin J.Tejada L.del Sol A.Di Stefano - F.Puskas F.Gento
No.4 1994 - AC Milan 4:0 Barcelona - Olympic Stadium (Athens, Greece)
May 18th 1994, the Olympic Stadium in Athens and 70,000 fans witness two giants of Latin football go toe to toe for supremacy,
and be crowned the best in Europe. Many people expected it to be a close final, although the Italian media wondered how their miserly
defence would cope with the loss of one of the game's finest ever partnerships - Costacurta and Baresi,
whilst Barca manager Johann Cruyff predicted a
comfortable win for his side; they'd been champions two years before and had been
scoring goals for fun (91 in 38 matches) as they notched up their 4th La Liga title in a row. Fabio Capello's Milan had also just won
Serie A but had done it in a different style - conceding just 15 but scoring only 36. Which is a surprise, because the attacking qualities
of the likes of Savicevic, Donadoni, Albertini and Boban was on paper at least the equal of Barca's Stoichkov, Romario and Bakero.
The game itself was one of the greatest European finals of the modern age. Milan, playing in their lucky all-white away strip,
dominated early in the game, and it didn't take long for the '93 runners-up to take the lead. Dejan 'Il Genio' Savicevic ran down the
right wing, passed to Daniele Massaro who had the relatively easy task of stabbing the ball into an empty net. Just before half-time
Massaro had his and
Milan's second, after great work down the left wing from another of Milan's maestro's, Roberto Donadoni, who cut the ball back for
Massaro to thump it home left-footed from just inside the penalty area.
Cruyff must have smoked a
few half-time ciggies (or sucked a few Chupa Chups) to calm his nerves, not that the second half would get any better for his side though.
In the 47th minute Savicevic capitalised on a defensive error by Miguel Angel Nadal to lob Andoni Zubizarreta wonderfully from 20 yards
from an acute angle. 3-0, and having conceded only two goals all through the competition Capello's men were hardly likely to let
that slip, Indeed, Milan were now threatening to run riot as first Savicevic, most people's man of the match, hit the post and then from
Barca's clearance Marcel Desailly intercepted, then charged through the Catalan's defence to scored another fantastic goal.
Desailly became the first player to win the trophy in consecutive years with different clubs after claiming a winner's medal 12 months
earlier with Marseille.
Capello had battered Cruyff's so called 'Dream Team', and the only remaining surprise was that there were no more goals despite
30 minutes still remaining on the clock, not that fans of the Rossoneri
were too bothered as stand-in captain Mauro
Tassotti went up to lifted the trophy amid scenes of wild jubilation.
S.Rossi - C.Panucci P.Maldini M.Tassotti F.Galli - D.Albertini M.Desailly Z.Boban R.Donadoni - D.Massaro D.Savicevic
A.Zubizarreta - A.Ferrer M.Nadal R.Koeman Sergi - P.Guardiola J.Bakero G.Amor - Romario H.Stoichkov T.Beguiristain
No.5 1968 - Manchester Utd 4:1 Benfica - Wembley (London, England)
May 29th 1968, Wembley, and 100,000 fans witness Manchester United become the first English team to win the European Cup.
With some of the era's great players on view the supporters were expecting a magical night - Utd featured George Best and Bobby Charlton,
but were missing Dennis Law through injury, whilst the big names in Benfica's ranks were Jose Augusto Torres
and the superstar of Portuguese football, Eusebio.
Benfica's Brazilian coach Otto Gloria made marking Best a priority, as did Matt Busby for Eusebio. Only 2 years earlier
had destroyed Benfica single handedly, so with the team's best two players unable to shake of the shackles of
their man-markers the first half was almost a non event, although Eusebio did escape the shadow of Nobby Stiles once when he hit the bar.
Early in the second half Bobby Charlton, with more room now Best was being marked, rose like a salmon to connect with a David Sadler cross
and put Utd 1-0 up. Benfica weren't beaten yet though, and they called on all their reserves and experience of winning this tournament
twice before to came back at United. In the 80th minute Jaime Graca beat Alex Stepney from close range to level the scores. The game was now
real end-to-end stuff, and Eusebio could have won it in the dying moments as he ran straight at goal and unleashed a trademark thunderbolt
that brought an instinctive save from Stepney, and a rueful hand-clap from Eusebio. Accuracy rather than power could well have taken the
cup back to Lisbon, but now extra time loomed.
Benfica looked strong, but incredibly the game was all over within the next ten minutes. Best started to get away from his marker
and scored a wonderful solo effort, beating one player and rounding the Jose Enrique to make it 2:1. Almost immediately it was 3:1 as
Brian Kidd, celebrating his 19th birthday, headed home at the second attempt. To round things off Charlton, a survivor of the Munich
air disaster 10 years earlier, glanced a header from a Kidd cross; 4-1, game over.
Matt Busby's 10 year crusade to make United great again was over, along with emotional fellow survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes,
they realised they had finally achieved their dreams. Charlton lifted the cup aloft and, remembering 10 years of hurt, there was
hardly a dry eye in the stadium by the end of the night.
A.Stepney - S.Brennan B.Foulkes P.Crerand T.Dunne - B.Charlton N.Stiles G.Best B.Kidd - D.Sadler J.Aston
J.Henrique - Adolfo Humberto J.Santos F.Cruz - J.Graca M.Coluna J.Augusto - J.Torres Eusebio A.Simoes
No.6 1956 - Real Madrid 4:3 Stade Reims - Parc des Princes (Paris, France)
June 13th 1956, 38000 fans, venue Parc des Princes. The big question: Who would be crowned the first ever champions of Europe ?
Would it be Spanish giants Real or Stade de Reims, the outstanding team from the small north eastern city in France, who dominated
French football in that era. Real had the likes of Di Stefano and Gento in their ranks, whilst Reims' main threat was superstar
striker Raymond Kopa, who had already been signed by Real to play for them from the start of the following season.
The game got off to a blistering start when, after just six minutes, Raymond Kopa took a free kick and the ball reached the head of
Michel Leblond who sent the ball looping over Juan Alonso into the goal. A Jean Templin goal soon afterwards gave the Frenchmen a two goal lead.
Stade de Reims, now with the bit between their teeth, nearly had another but Kopa's shot was cleared off the line. This sprung
the Spanish outfit out of their traps, and after a run and shot from Di Stefano they were back in it, all this after just 15 remarkable
minutes. Hector Rial's header from a corner brought the scores level before half-time.
In the second half, the Madrid team were beginning to dominate the game, and the player pulling all the strings was the
legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, but against the run of play future French national coach Michel Hidalgo headed Reims into a 3-2 lead
from another Kopa free kick, just after the hour mark. Like a footballing pendulum the game had swung back in their favour. Real needed
something special, and they got it, albeit from a surprise source - a fine run and a deflected strike from centre-back Manuel
Marquitos on 67 minutes brought them level and changed the game once more.
Ten minutes to go and up popped Rial again to give Madrid the lead for the first time. Was it over ? Nearly... but for an unfortunate
shot in the dying minutes of the game that rattled Alonso's bar, Jean Templin could have forced a draw.
Real eventually managed to hold out to the final whistle and win the match 4-3, and start a love affair with the European cup
that would last for the following five years. The rather unlucky Kopa commented after the game
"After what I have seen in this game, I don't know why Real need me. Their team is complete."
J.Alonso - A.Atienza Marquitos R.Lesmes M.Munoz - J.Zarraga Joseito R.Marsal A.Di Stefano - H.Rial F.Gento
R.Jacquet - S.Zimny R.Jonquet R.Giraudo M.Leblond - R.Siatka M.Hidalgo L.Glowacki R.Kopa - R.Bliard J.Templin
No. 7 1967 - Celtic 2:1 Inter - Estadio Nacional (Lisbon, Portugal)
May 25th 1967, Lisbon and 56,000 fans, 12,000 travelling over from Scotland, attend the final to see who will take
Real Madrid's crown as champions of Europe.
It was a clash of two very differing styles of the game, with the Italians employing their infamous catenaccio
whilst the Glaswegians preferred a more traditional British gung-ho all-out attack.
Celtic had become the first British team to reach the final, and were rated underdogs, but everyone outside the black and blue
half of Milan wanted
to win, as much for the sake of attacking football as the glory of the underdog. They were a team comprised
of players all born within twenty miles of their home ground, a team committed to exciting and attacking football, up against
the expensively assembled Inter machine that had already won two European titles by sucking the life out of their opponents.
As the game kicked-off, neutral fans were wishing for an early Celtic goal - to make Inter come out and play (their
Argentinian coach Helenio Herrera had set them up
with 5 at the back and 1 up front, so everyone knew that if they scored first they'd shut-up shop for the remainder
of the game). The Scots played with 2 wingers, the legendary Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone on the right and Bobby Lennox
on the left. Both would be integral parts of Jock Stein's game plan as they fed the other forwards at every chance.
Attacking was the only way Celtic knew, and Herrera had warned his defence that they'd be in for a real test.
Just seven minutes into the game, every fans worse nightmare was a reality... Inter went one up, when Jim Craig upended
Renato Cappellini and a penalty was awarded. Sandro Mazzola stepped up and slotted it home past Ronnie Simpson.
This could have killed off many a team, but the lion hearted Glasgow boys now knew that they could play their own game, and attack.
Inter sat back and defended wave upon wave of relentless attacking from every Celtic player,
the keeper Giuliano Sarti was having a blinder, saving everything Celtic could throw at him. And when he was beaten, the
woodwork came to his rescue, the bar being hit twice.
Inter were normally happy to soak up the pressure and hit on the counter attack, but in this period they had no such respite,
and eventually, with less than half an hour left, the breakthrough finally came. Craig found space down the right wing,
pulled a ball back to the advancing Tommy Gemmell, who unleashed a first time screamer from 25 yards. Back of the net. 1-1.
Herrera now had to get his team to change tack, but the tigerish Hoops were in no mood to
let go of their Latin opponents, and continued Stein's philosophy of "attack at every chance and you'll get the rewards".
Inter still couldn't get out of their half, and with 6 minutes to go, Celtic took the lead. Gemmell squared the ball
from the left to Bobby Murdoch whose shot was deflected into the net by Stevie Chalmers.
A battered Inter didn't have any more in them, and Celtic were crowned European Champions, completing a remarkable treble.
As thousands of Scots invaded the pitch they began to wrestle every bit of souvenirs they could get their hands on.
Simpson in goal even had to collect all the false teeth of his team mates before the fans had them too - the players had
left them in his cap in the back of the goal.
The ecstatic fans carried their heroes to the dressing rooms, and held up the official ceremony for ten minutes.
Eventually captain Billy McNeill stepped forward and lifted the cup, to a thunderous noise.
The final statistics for the game were amazing, Celtic had 8 times as many attempts on goal as their foes, re-iterating
Stein's philosophy. Catenaccio
was beaten, and the old breed of football was just beginning again; fast,
attacking and exciting thanks to The Lisbon Lions
R.Simpson - J.Craig B.McNeill T.Gemmell B.Murdoch - J.Clark J.Johnstone W.Wallace B.Lennox - B.Auld S.Chalmers
G.Sarti - T.Burgnich A.Guarneri A.Picchi G.Facchetti - G.Bedin S.Mazzola M.Bicicli A.Domenghini - R.Cappellini M.Corso
No. 8 1997 - Borussia Dortmund 3:1 Juventus - Olympiastadion (Munich, Germany)
May 28th 1997, the Olympiastadion, and 59,000 fans had made their way to Munich, the German half
with their fingers crossed to see if a massive shock could happen. They were not to be disappointed.
An emerging Borussia Dortmund,
with some of their country's biggest stars, were still huge underdogs against
The Old Lady
of Turin, Juventus, the holders of the trophy following their penalty shoot-out
win over Ajax a year previous. On a night when Juve was supposed to be celebrating her
100th birthday, the ever-organised Germans gate-crashed the party and wrecked the Italian's special night.
The two teams had previously met a few years earlier, in the UEFA Cup Final, Juve the overwhelming
victors, 6:1 over the two legs. And with a strong team featuring the likes of Zidane, Deschamps, Vieri
and Boksic they had a strong belief that they would be winners again.
The first half hour was all Juventus, and it seemed only a matter of time before they went one up.
Boksic and Vieri ran Dortmund ragged, but as the defence stood firm, Dortmund started to believe in
themselves and create chances of their own. Well organized, Ottmar Hitzfeld's team played on the
counter, but a corner
from ex-Juve player Andreas Moller was cleared to Scottish midfielder Paul Lambert who put the ball
over to Riedle to control, shoot and score. Borussia's fans were in ecstasy. Five minutes later and they
were in wonderland. Again a corner from Moller caused panic in Peruzzi's box, Riedle
out-jumped the static defence, and sent a bullet header between goalie and defender.
Ten minutes before half-time, and Juventus were being humiliated.
Juve gaffer Marcello Lippi had to make a change, and brought on Del Piero to quicken the pace.
This took immediate effect as Juventus were now upping the tempo and getting closer to a goal.
Vieri, who had an earlier goal disallowed, hit the bar, then came Del Piero's goal. A subtle
moment from a classy player as a near post cross was back-flipped in past Stefan Klos.
The Italians could now smell an equaliser, and went for all out attack. It would be a big mistake.
Dortmund countered through substitute Lars Ricken down the right, with space to run into he
chipped Peruzzi from 20 yards, becoming the youngest scorer in a Champions League Final. It was also
the fastest ever goal by a substitute, as he'd only been on the pitch for just over 15 seconds.
Twenty minutes left and die Schwarzgelben
were now 3-1 up against what the media had
dubbed 'the Wonder Team'. They saw out the remaining twenty minutes to achieve one of the biggest
upsets the finals had seen, and a jubilant Matthias Sammer held the trophy aloft to the disbelieving
but adoring Dortmund fans.
S.Klos - J.Kohler M.Sammer M.Kree S.Reuter - P.Lambert P.Sousa J.Heinrich A.Moller - K.H.Reidle S.Chapuisat
A.Peruzzi - S.Porrini C.Ferrara P.Montero M.Iuliuano - A.Di Livio V.Jugovic D.Deschamps Z.Zidane - A.Boksic C.Vieri
No.9 1999 - Manchester Utd 2:1 Bayern Munich - Camp Nou (Barcelona, Spain)
26th May 1999, and 90,000 fans in the Nou Camp were to witness the last European
Cup of the 20th Century. Nearly a decade and half had passed since the last English
team were in Man Utd's position, could they do the unthinkable and win the 'Holy Grail',
to add to the domestic double, making it a remarkable treble? But in their way were
Bayern, also going for their own treble.
On the day that would have marked Sir Matt Busby's birthday, the Red Devils were about to enter
the Promised Land. United were missing their inspirational skipper, Roy Keane, and key
midfielder Paul Scholes through suspension, but with the drive of Peter Schmeichel on his
last game for club and their never say die attitude, United would have their day.
Right from the start it was obvious that the German's had got their tactics spot
on and were going to be a much tougher proposition than the English media had
made out. A point that was rammed down their throats just six minutes into the match
when Mario Basler scored from a free-kick, one that's still debated as to whether
it took a slight deflection or just swerved straight in. Whichever, it wasn't the start
United wanted. Bayern were looking very
dangerous in attack and comfortable at the back, playing on the counter, and restricting
United to a couple of chances in the first half. Basler
was beginning to dominate the game, and nearly scored another. Bayern's ascendancy
eventually propelled Alex Ferguson to make a
change, and on came veteran striker Teddy Sheringham for left-winger Jesper Blomqvist,
a move that forced Hitzfeld to change tactics, bringing midfielder Mehmet Scholl on at the
expense of a forward, Alexander Zickler.
Bayern though, continued to look dangerous
and hit the post late on through Scholl after another fantastic run from man-of-the-match
United were now desperate to make an impact and with just under ten minutes to go Ferguson
threw on Solskjaer, it nearly had an immediate effect as his header forced Oliver Kahn into a fine
save. The game was now real end to end stuff, and just a minute later Bayern could have wrapped it
all up, but were denied by the woodwork again as Luton-reject Carston Jancker's overhead kick
dramatically hit the bar. With only 5 minutes left on the clock United were at last
beginning to dominate and came agonisingly close through a Sheringham volley and then
another Solskjaer header.
The game entered injury time, and United forced a corner. All the United team were up,
Beckham crossed and, after a mad scramble, and a poor effort from Giggs, the ball fell
to Sheringham. He swiped at the ball, and... goal!!!
Extra-time ? not on your nelly.
Less than 30 seconds after the restart, United forced another corner, but Schmeichel
stayed in his penalty area this time. Beckham again swung the corner in, which was
headed down by Sheringham, and Solskjaer poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern
goal for United to take an astonishing lead. Bayern, who just two minutes earlier
were celebrating to their own fans, were now dead and buried, Collina having to
literally drag them off the floor to restart the game, but seconds later ending
their misery with the final whistle - it was all
over, United were Champions of Europe once more. After the ribbon colours were
changed the cup was raised by Schmeichel and the soon to be knighted Alex Ferguson.
United were the first winners of the European Cup who were not winners of their
domestic league. But try telling Man U fans if they care.
P.Schmeichel - G.Neville J.Stam R.Johnsen D.Irwin - R.Giggs N.Butt D.Beckham J.Blomqvist - A.Cole D.Yorke
O.Kahn - L.Matthaus M.Babbel S.Kuffour T.Linke - M.Tarnat J.Jeremies S.Effenberg M.Basler - C.Janker A.Zickler
No. 10 1972 - Ajax 2:0 Inter Milan - Feijenoord Stadion (Rotterdam, Holland)
Having been hammered by Milan and Pierino Prati in their first European Cup Final in 1969
and then had to watch in despair as bitter rivals Feyenoord stole their thunder the year
after, Ajax had finally been crowned as kings of Europe in 1971 with a 2:0 victory
over Panathinaikos at Wembley. Over the course of the next two seasons they would make this
a hat-trick of wins, culminating with a narrow victory over Juventus in Belgrade in 1973.
However, it was the 1972 final against Italian Champions Inter that was their finest hour
(and a half). The final was a classic clash of styles. Ajax, were no longer managed by the
'father' of Total Football
, Rinus Michels, but Rumanian coach Stefan Kovacs had continued
with his philosophy, and with the likes of Cruyff, Keizer, Neeskens and Krol, it wasn't hard
to see why. Inter, on the other hand, may have been a few years on from the height of Helenio Herrera's
days, but they were still playing an extremely defensive system.
Strangely for Ajax and their supporters, the game was being played in Holland, but at the home
of Feyenoord in Rotterdam,
and the majority of the near 70,000 crowd took full advantage of this and made it feel
almost like a home game. The game started
as many had expected - with Inter getting everyone behind the ball except for lone striker
Roberto Boninsegna. Ajax played their normal neat, inventive game, but for all their possession and
crafty passing they couldn't find the goal their play deserved, although they did hit the woodwork
twice and have a goal disallowed. However, just a couple of minutes into the second half, Inter keeper
Ivano Bordon made a complete hash of Wim Suurbier's cross and Cruyff was left with an open goal to
make it 1:0. Inter coach Giovanni Invernizzi had obviously told his players to try to soak up the
pressure and let Ajax play themselves out, but with that plan now shattered they had to come forward
to get back on level terms. They had some success, with both Boninsegna and Sandro Mazzola coming close,
but it also played into Ajax's hands as the inter-play between Gerrie Muhren and the
of Keizer and
Cruyff started to rip them apart at the back, and it was no surprise when Cruff converted a second
from Keizer's cross with just thirteen minutes remaining.
The victory was greeted across Europe in a similar fashion to Celtic's defeat of Inter five years
earlier - heralded as a victory for Ajax's attacking football over the defensive game of Inter.
The final also marked the height of this
fantastic Ajax side, as they ended the season by winning every competition they'd entered, also claiming
the Dutch League and Cup, the European Super Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup.
H.Stuy - W.Suurbier B.Hulshoff H.Blankenburg R.Krol -
J.Neeskens A.Haan G.Muhren - S.Swart J.Cruyff P.Keizer
I.Bordon - T.Burgnich G.Facchetti M.Bellugi G.Oriali -
M.Giubertoni G.Bedin M.Frustalupi - J.da Costa S.Mazzola R.Boninsegna