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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