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What Was Your First Champions League or European Cup Final?

There’s something magical about a European final. There’s a different buzz in the air. Lot of contrasts. And so much more that’s on the line. But there’s also a massive sense of being involved in an occasion. One which will live in the history books.

Thinking back, my first European Cup Final should have been 1977 when Liverpool faced Borussia Monchengladbach. By that point, I would have been 7 years old. That season was my first that I remember religiously watching soccer. But perhaps I missed the European Cup Final (as it was called then before becoming the Champions League Final) because the match was played on a weekday evening when I should have been in bed or doing homework.

I missed that final, but the next one I didn’t miss. The 1978 European Cup Final featuring Liverpool against FC Brugge (of Belgium) was played at Wembley. The match was memorable in my eyes for Kenny Dalglish’s sublime chip to score the solitary goal of the game. For weeks after that game, I remember imitating that goal on the local playground and trying to perfect that chip over and over again. When I played in a kickabout with the other kids from my village, I used to pretend I was Dalglish. When I ran, I had the same flushed red cheeks as Dalglish. And I also had a similar haircut at that time. He was definitely an idol and that goal against Brugge was a large part of that.

The 1979 European Cup Final between FC Malmo (of Sweden) and Nottingham Forest was also a memorable one. Not because of the game itself, which I remember as being boring, but the way that Brian Clough and Peter Taylor achieved the seemingly impossible by taking a relative small city in England all the way to winning the European Cup. That diving header by Trevor Francis was a beautiful image that will live in my memory forever. But this game is also memorable to me for two reasons. The grainy images, something which you’d expect to see on It’s A Knockout. And the audio commentary by Barry Davies, which sounded like he was speaking from a different galaxy. It all added to the charm and made the live production seem like it was coming from the other side of the world.

What about you? What’s your memory of your first Champions League Final (or European Cup Final)? Share your stories in the comments section below.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Henry

    May 30, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Bruce Grobbelaar’s spaghetti legs in the 1984 pen shoot out (brilliantly recreated by Dudek in Istanbul). I can’t recall too much of the game; I remember Phil Neale scoring, but I can’t picture the Roma equaliser. Similarly I can see Stevie Nicol missing in the shoot out, but I can’t picture too many of the other penalties … but I’ll never forget Brucie’s legs and Alan Kennedy celebrating … ah the memories.

    I recently read that Grobbelaar was the only foreign member of the Liverpool squad that night (non British or Irish) and that Roma only had two non Italians in their squad. My, how times have changed.

  2. Clark Meyer

    May 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Mine was the Nottingham Forest/Malmo match. Made a huge impression on me as a 9-year old living abroad for the year. I was pulling for Malmo (already a rabid Liverpool supporter), and I remember feeling both gutted when Francis hit the net and rather ashamed at myself for being so in awe of the goal.

  3. LS

    May 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    1998-99 was the first season I recall seriously watching Champions League football and I’ve been hooked ever since. It helped that 98-99 was the year Manchester United was in the midst of their treble-winning season and won the CL with that amazing stoppage time comeback 🙂

  4. El

    May 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Arsenal vs Barcelona, 2006.

  5. Guy

    May 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Congratulations, Gaffer! 🙂

    • The Gaffer

      May 28, 2011 at 9:59 am

      …congratulations for what?! I know Wales won yesterday and Swansea are in the final, but there’s still a long way to go!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Guy

        May 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

        One step at a time. 😉

  6. rej4sl

    May 28, 2011 at 9:21 am

    The first one memory serves is Kevin Keegan playing for Hamburg v Nottingham Forest – it sticks in my memory for some reason and I would have been about 12 so I must have seen some before this one – but my memory is aging and I am trying hard to recall further back lol. (1979-80)

    • The Gaffer

      May 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

      That one was a classic one! Glory days.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  7. Johannes

    May 28, 2011 at 8:34 am

    My first was the 1986-87 final between Porto and Bayern Munich… being five years old and a big Bayern Munich fan that was the first time I was allowed to stay up late for a midweek final. Heart breaking loss for my team that day, but it showed me how special European finals are.

  8. Kobashi

    May 28, 2011 at 8:31 am

    My buddy John D. Williams was posting a lot in 1999 about Manchester United on http://www.otherarena.com which is a pro wrestling message board. as the season was getting to the end of the season and how they were going for this incredible feat known as the Treble. He is a huge Man U fan and every post had me more and more curious about European Soccer.

    Growing up in Detroit soccer was never that big. We had the Detroit Express when I was a little kid but they folded before I was 8 years old. There was a couple of Indoor Soccer teams like the Rockers and the Safari that came through and folded in short time. The only soccer I remember on TV was the World Cup in 1990 on TNT but we didn’t have cable at the time. I got into World Cup 1994 here in the States and remember watching the US/Brazil game on the 4th of July in my buddy James’s basement where Brazil beat the US in a tight 1-0 game. The next soccer game I remember seeing was the World Cup Final in 98. Soccer just wasn’t on my radar because it just wasn’t on TV hardly at all and I was just getting online. I’m a huge sports fan and was curious about soccer and knew I would like it more if I had an outlet to watch the game. I never could understand how American Sports Fans could rip a game by calling it boring since we hardly ever saw a game on TV.

    On May 26th 1999 I rushed home from where I worked in Plymouth Michigan to where I was living at the time in Ypsilanti Michigan. I got home and put on ESPN2 and there was about 10 minutes left in the Final between Munich and United. When those 2 goals by Sheringham and Solskjaer went in and United pipped Munich for the title I was immediately hooked! That last 10 minutes of that game were as exciting as anything I had ever seen in Sports.

    The following season I discovered the 2 hour English Premier League Highlight Show that Fox Sports had been syndicating on Sunday afternoons to it’s outlets through America including PASS which was the local sports network in Detroit. The following year I got a Direct TV and Fox Sports World and I’ve been a soccer junkie since then. The rise of expanded TV sports packages and the internet where a fan in America could go and learn about the game are the two reasons why sports fans like myself have taken to the game in the last 10 or so years. It was a perfect storm at the right time for a sports fan like myself to be able to go all in on soccer as there was a place to watch games and get breaking news of what is going on in the game of soccer.

    If it wasn’t for jdw’s posts and that 10 incredible minutes between Munich and United I doubt I would be as big a fan as I am now of the game and wouldn’t have spent 20 minutes crafting this post. I don’t think I’ve missed a Final since then and probably won’t ever miss a Final ever again. I watch a lot of sports on TV and I don’t think there is a sport on TV that I’ve watched more than soccer since that incredible day in May of 1999. I can’t thank jdw enough for sparking my passion in the game beautiful game.

    GO UNITED!!!!!!

  9. Pozz

    May 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Marseille vs AC Milan 1993

  10. Malthe

    May 28, 2011 at 7:39 am

    I think it was the AC Milan-Liverpool 4-4 Dudek game!

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