5 Great Moments In European Cup Final History

As we anticipate an epic encounter this week when Bayern Munich face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Final, today on the blog Jonathan Wilson shares with us five memorable moments in the history of the European Cup Final.


Ferenc Puskas’s magnanimity, 1960

Real Madrid’s 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt is probably the most emphatic display by any side in a European Cup final. Ferenc Puskas scored four and Alfredo di Stefano three (and Madrid struck the post three times) but any debate as to who should take the match-ball was ended when, in an act of extraordinary generosity, Puskas handed it to the Eintracht forward Erwin Stein.

“In the last moments, Alfredo and I were playing keep-ball, passing the ball back and forward to one another,” Puskas said. “We sometimes did that at the end of a match we knew we’d won. It was a little game we played to see who could grab the ball at the end. On this occasion I’d glanced at the referee’s watch, and I was counting the last minute in my mind to make sure the ball was at my feet when the final whistle went. Then Stein came over and asked for it. At first I wasn’t having any of it, but after the third time he asked me, I thought, ‘I really want this ball, but this guy’s scored two and lost the match. It’s the least I can do.’”

Tommy Gemmell’s ice-cream, 1967

Having scored the equaliser and played a key part in Celtic’s victory over Internazionale in the 1967 European Cup final, Tommy Gemmell was exhausted. As he left the pitch under the scorching Lisbon sun, he saw an ice-cream salesman and decided that was just the thing to cool him down.

The only problem was that, still in full kit, he had no money on him. In the circumstance, though, he thought he might be allowed a freebie. The vendor, though, was having none of it, and angrily chased the full-back until he found a journalist to pay for him.

Matt Busby’s song, 1968

It is late and drink had been taken. Matt Busby clambered onto a table in the ballroom at the Russell Hotel in London and, his voice cracking with emotion, sand “It’s a Wonderful World”. A few hours after Manchester United became the first English team to win the European Cup by beating Benfica 4-1 at Wembley, it is a moment of deep catharsis.

As Busby sang, he was surrounded by survivors of the Munich air crash that, 10 years earlier, had killed eight players and 15 others on their way back from a European Cup quarter-final against Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade. “Deep down the sorrow is there all the time,” Busby said. “It becomes part of you.” Bobby Charlton, having scored twice in the final, found himself emotionally overwhelmed and couldn’t even attend the reception.

Kevin Keegan’s black eye, 1977

When players and journalists gathered to travel back to Britain the morning after Liverpool’s first European Cup win, it was obvious Kevin Keegan had a black eye.

Rumours quickly spread that he’d had a fight with Tommy Smith or Jimmy Case but the truth turned out to be far more mundane. That morning, a group of players had attempted to throw Phil Neal, who scored the final goal from the penalty spot in the 3-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach into the pool. As he’d desperately tried to take off a pair of expensive leather shoes, he’d kicked Keegan in the face.

Joan Gaspart’s bath, 1992

In the grey light of dawn, on the muddy riverbank, the then Barcelona vice-president Joan Gaspart and a handful of his directors, stripped to their boxer shorts, then hurled themselves into the water, and so fulfilled a pledge he had made that if Barcelona won the European Cup he would take a dip in the Thames. A few hours earlier, Barca had beaten Sampdoria 1-0 in the final at Wembley, Ronaldo Koeman’s free-kick sealing their first ever European Cup.

“When we scored that goal,” said their coach Johan Cruyff, “all I remember thinking was, please, please, Barca, don’t lose your mind. I knew if my players hung on to theirs we would win.”



Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @jonawils

He is also the editor of TheBlizzard.co.uk