Paco Gento: the habitual European Cup winner

Francisco Gento may not be a name that many of today’s younger supporters will recognise, however he is one of the most successful and decorated players of all time at club level. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Francisco Gento’s sixth European Cup winner’s medal in 1966 would create a record that still stands…

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Red Star and the immortal triumph of 1991

As the Iron Curtain descended over Eastern Europe following the Second World War, when Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union held onto – or at the very least controlled – the land that it had gained as it fought back against Nazi Germany, it wasn’t just the political structures of the Eastern Bloc countries that were affected. Their…

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Benfica and the curse of Béla Guttmann

In sport, especially within the often wildly unpredictable world of football, there is rarely anything like a guaranteed winning bet. The Europa League final on May 14 2014, was, however, probably as close to being a dead cert as almost anything ever is when the beautiful game is involved. Bet on Sevilla to beat Benfica and…

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The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and European football’s boom

Imagine if London’s football clubs collaborated in European competition. Would a combined side of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham players stand a chance against major European cities, or would the likes of Barcelona, Madrid and Munich still dominate? In 1950, when FIFA vice-president Ernst Thommen spawned the idea of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup that question was not…

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Ernst Happel: the Feyenoord years

“Future: Feyenoord?” Those two humble words were the last to leave the medium-build Austrian’s pen as he hunched over a table in favourite cafe in central Vienna. After a relatively good season in The Hague, he was taking some time off and had travelled back home. He lights a cigarette and flips it into his mouth,…

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