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The UEFA Champions League (also known as the European Cup , UCL, CE1, C1[1] or CL) is a seasonal club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) since 1955 for the most successful football clubs in Europe. The prize, the European Champion Clubs' Cup, is considered the most prestigious club trophy in the sport.

As of the end of the 2008–09 competition, English clubs have eleven European Cup wins, tied with Italy for the second most by any country. (Spanish clubs have the most with twelve wins.) Of the eleven wins by English clubs, a record-breaking four different teams have won Europe's premier club competition: Liverpool five times, Manchester United three times, Nottingham Forest twice and Aston Villa once. English clubs also hold the records for the most consecutive tournamant victories by clubs from one country (six wins between 1977 and 1982 by three different clubs) as well as the most consecutive defeats in the final (four different teams were runners-up once each between 2006 and 2009).


European Cup era


Early years: 1955–1967

As champions of The Football League in 1954–55, Chelsea were scheduled to become England's representatives in the inaugural European Champions' Cup competition, to be staged the following season. Indeed, they were drawn to face Swedish champions Djurgårdens in the first round. However, Chelsea were denied by the intervention of the Football League, in particular their secretary Alan Hardaker, who persuaded them to withdraw.[1][2]

Instead, the 1955–56 league champions, Manchester United, became the first English club to compete in the new competition. They faced R.S.C. Anderlecht in the preliminary round, winning the first leg 2–0 away from home. Dennis Viollet scored the opening goal, the first for an English club in the European Cup, and he went on to become the tournament's top scorer that season, scoring nine goals. Four goals from Viollet and a hat-trick from Tommy Taylor helped United to achieve a 10–0 second leg victory as they progressed 12–0 on aggregate.[3] United's first three home ties of the competition were played at Manchester City's Maine Road ground, since the floodlights at Old Trafford were still in the process of being installed and were not switched on until March 1957.[4] After next eliminating Borussia Dortmund and Athletic Bilbao, United lost to holders Real Madrid in the semi-final, 5–3 on aggregate.[3] They did retain their league title however, to ensure their place in the following season's European Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur reached the semi-finals of the 1961–62 tournament, but were knocked out by Benfica.

The next two seasons were less successful in terms of progress by English clubs. Ipswich Town began the 1962–63 competition with a 14–1 aggregate victory over Floriana (including a 10–0 second leg win), but lost in the first round to A.C. Milan, who went on to win the final at Wembley. A year later Everton were beaten by another Milan club, Internazionale, in the preliminary round.

Manchester United win at Wembley: 1967–1976

Wembley Stadium was the venue for two English victories in the European Cup: Manchester United won there in 1968, as did Liverpool ten years later.

Leeds United centre forward Mick Jones was the top scorer in the 1969–70 tournament; his eight goals helped his club to reach the semi-final stage, where they lost to Celtic. Jones scored a hat-trick in Leeds' 10–0 first round first leg win over Lyn Oslo, a match in which his team mate Michael O'Grady had opened the scoring after just 35 seconds, at the time believed to be the fastest goal in European Cup history.[5] In 1970–71, Everton reached the quarter-final, where they lost to Panathinaikos on the away goals rule. In the early rounds, Everton had won the competition's first ever penalty shootout when they eliminated Borussia Mönchengladbach.[6] Arsenal made their first European Cup appearance in 1971–72. They were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Ajax, who went on to win the second of three consecutive European Cups, while Arsenal would not feature in the competition for another twenty years.

Derby County returned to the competition in 1975–76, but this time were defeated at the second round stage by Real Madrid. A Charlie George hat-trick gave Derby a 4–1 first leg victory, but Madrid progressed thanks to a 5–1 extra time win in the second leg.[7]

English domination: 1976–1984

Whereas the early to mid-1970s had seen three successive European Cup victories each for Ajax and Bayern Munich, the competition was dominated by English clubs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Between 1977 and 1982, English teams won a record six successive finals. The sequence began when Liverpool, managed by Bob Paisley, beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3–1 in the 1977 European Cup Final, in what was striker Kevin Keegan's last game for the club.[8] Keegan's replacement Kenny Dalglish scored the only goal of the 1978 final against Club Brugge as Liverpool became the first English club to retain the trophy.[9] Meanwhile, Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest had succeeded Liverpool as English champions, and the two teams faced each other in the first round of the 1978–79 European Cup in the first meeting of two English clubs in the competition. Nottingham Forest won the tie on the way to reaching the final, where they beat Malmö 1–0. Forest were the third club to win the tournament at their first attempt, after Real Madrid in 1955–56 and Internazionale in 1963–64.[10]

Liverpool were again eliminated in the first round in 1979–80, while Forest retained the trophy, beating Hamburg 1–0 in the final. The following season it was Nottingham Forest's turn to make a first round exit as Liverpool went all the way to the final, where they beat Real Madrid 1–0 to secure their third European Cup under Bob Paisley. Liverpool's Terry McDermott and Graeme Souness were the tournament's joint top scorers, alongside Bayern Munich's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, with six goals apiece.[11] Liverpool failed to retain the trophy on this occasion as they were beaten in the quarter-finals by CSKA Sofia in the 1981–82 competition. A sixth successive English victory was still achieved however, as Aston Villa, playing in the European Cup for the first time, beat Bayern Munich 1–0 in the final in Rotterdam.[12] The run of victories by English clubs came to an end in 1982–83 when both Liverpool and Aston Villa went out at the quarter-final stage after losing to Widzew Łódź and Juventus respectively.[13] In the 1983–84 competition, Liverpool once again reached the final, where they faced Roma in the latter's home stadium, the Stadio Olimpico. The match finished 1–1 after extra time and Liverpool won the subsequent penalty shootout (4–2) to lift their fourth European Cup. It was the first time that the final had been settled by spot kicks.[14]

Heysel and its repercussions: 1984–1992

Liverpool's participation in the 1984–85 European Cup marked their ninth successive season in the competition. They again made it to the final, but lost out 1–0 to Juventus after Michel Platini scored a second half penalty. 1985 was the year of the Heysel Stadium disaster, which led to all English clubs being banned from the European Cup.

In the 1991–92 season, Arsenal were the first team to represent England in the European Cup after English teams were allowed back in. Arsenal lost out over two legs in the second round to Benfica.

Champions League era (1992–present)

Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the winning goal for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League Final.

The 1992–93 season saw the competition rebranded as the UEFA Champions League, a move that formalised the mini-league format that had been introduced the previous year.[15] After winning the inaugural Premier League title, Manchester United entered the Champions League in 1993–94, the first time in a quarter of a century that they had played in European football's leading club competition. United failed to reach the group stage however, losing out on away goals to Galatasaray following a 3–3 aggregate scoreline in their second round tie.[16]

A further change to the competition occurred in 1994–95, when the first and second rounds were replaced by four mini-leagues of four teams each, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the quarter-finals.[17] As one of eight seeded teams, Manchester United were given a bye directly to the group stage, but missed out on the quarter-finals after finishing third, behind Barcelona on goal difference.[18] In 1995–96, Blackburn Rovers were England's Champions League representatives, but their campaign was not a successful one as they won just one of their six group games and failed to qualify for the latter stages.[19]

Manchester United's return to the Champions League in 1996–97 was the first of 14 consecutive appearances in the competition by the club, a streak that is still ongoing as of the 2009–10 season. They progressed through the group stages for the first time and went on to reach the semi-final, losing to eventual winners Borussia Dortmund.[20] United topped their mini-league in the following season's group stages,[21] but were defeated by AS Monaco on away goals in the quarter-finals.[22] Also representing England in 1997–98 were Newcastle United, after the runners-up from Europe's top eight leagues were allowed to enter for the first time.[23] Newcastle successfully negotiated the second qualifying round, but could only finish third in their group, despite a victory over Barcelona in the opening group game.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Philip, Robert (5 April 2005). "Former Chelsea hard man used to playing second fiddle". Retrieved 30 May 2009.  
  2. ^ Glanville, Brian (27 April 2005). "The great Chelsea surrender". London: TimesOnline. Retrieved 30 May 2009.  
  3. ^ a b Zea, Antonio (28 March 2007). "European Champions' Cup 1956-57 - Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 4 July 2009.  
  4. ^ Inglis, Simon (1984) [1983]. The Football Grounds of England and Wales (Paperback edition ed.). Collins Willow. p. 55.  
  5. ^ Zea, Antonio; Haisma, Marcel (9 January 2008). "European Champions' Cup and Fairs' Cup 1969-70 - Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 15 July 2009.  
  6. ^ "1970/71: Cruyff pulls the strings". Retrieved 15 July 2009.  
  7. ^ Zea, Antonio; Haisma, Marcel (9 January 2008). "European Champions' Cup 1975-76 - Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 21 July 2009.  
  8. ^ "1976/77: Keegan signs off in style". Retrieved 20 July 2009.  
  9. ^ "1977/78: Dalglish keeps Reds on top". Retrieved 20 July 2009.  
  10. ^ "1978/79: Forest join élite club". Retrieved 20 July 2009.  
  11. ^ Zea, Antonio; Haisma, Marcel (9 January 2008). "European Champions' Cup 1980-81 - Details". RSSSF. Retrieved 21 July 2009.  
  12. ^ "1981/82: Withe brings Villa glory". Retrieved 21 July 2009.  
  13. ^ "1982/83: Magath thunderbolt downs Juve". Retrieved 16 July 2009.  
  14. ^ "1983/84: Kennedy spot on for Liverpool". Retrieved 19 July 2009.  
  15. ^ "1992/93: French first for Marseille". Retrieved 12 July 2009.  
  16. ^ "UEFA Champions League → Season 1993 - 1994 → Second round". Retrieved 12 July 2009.  
  17. ^ "1994/95: Kluivert strikes late for Ajax". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  18. ^ "UEFA Champions League → Season 1994 - 1995 → Group A". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  19. ^ "UEFA Champions League → Season 1995 - 1996 → Group B". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  20. ^ "1996/97: Riedle makes Dortmund's day". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  21. ^ "UEFA Champions League → Season 1997 - 1998 → Group B". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  22. ^ "UEFA Champions League → Season 1997 - 1998 → Quarter-finals". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  23. ^ "1997/98: Seventh heaven for Madrid". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  
  24. ^ "UEFA Champions League → Season 1997 - 1998 → Group C". Retrieved 13 July 2009.  


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