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The great European Cup final of 1960 remembered

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Phil Minshull | 17:03 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Real Madrid's failure to make the Champions League final in their own Santiago Bernabeu stadium this Saturday only makes it more poignant that, almost 50 years ago to the day, they were involved in what many consider to be one of the best club matches of all time.

Real president Florentino Perez spent hundreds of millions of euros last summer with virtually the sole objective of winning a record 10th Champions League in front of the club's own fans and he is apparently still grinding his teeth at the team's failure to do any better than the last 16.

The only consolation for Perez is that their bitter rivals and this season's La Liga champions Barcelona will not be there either, having lost in the semi-final to Inter Milan.

So as Inter prepare to face Bayern Munich this weekend, let us turn the clock back half a century to a bygone era.

Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt was the scoreline following 90 minutes of pulsating action at Hampden Park on 18 May, 1960, the win giving Real a fifth consecutive European Cup, a streak that has never been equalled.

The outstanding individual contributions of giants of the game like Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas are rightly acknowledged - the pair scored all of Real's goals between them - but it was also a collective triumph for the team that has gone down as possibly the best club side in history.

Alfredo di Stefano scoresAlfredo di Stefano scores Real Madrid's first goal

In a break from the prevailingly myopic view of football elsewhere in the world by many sections of the British media, even The Times was moved to comment: "Real Madrid, with its brilliant performance on Scottish soil, has maintained the suggestion that it is the best club in the world."

Despite four European Cup wins in the preceding four years, it was the Hampden Park triumph that finally confirmed in most people's minds that these lazy latinos, although Puskas was, of course, Hungarian, could play football.

The Daily Mail also wrote: "It's just a pity that the thousands of people at the game, and who have to return to watching Scottish football, must have thought that they were dreaming."

Among the 134,000 people who walked out stunned at what they had seen and amazed at the artistry of both sides was an 18-year-old amateur player called Alex Ferguson. I wonder what happened to him?

The black-and-white footage demonstrates that, despite some astonishing defensive lapses by the Germans (by modern standards at least), it was actually far from a one-sided affair.

Rogelio Dominguez, Real's goalkeeper, had to make several great saves from Eintracht forwards Erwin Stein and Richard Kress before Real got into the game.

In fact, Eintracht opened the scoring through Kress after 18 minutes only for Di Stefano to score twice for Real just before the half-hour and Puskas to make it 3-1 with strike from a tight angle on the stroke of half-time.

A questionable penalty after 56 minutes, for a foul by Hans Weilbacher on Francisco Gento, was converted by Puskas, who scored two more in the next 15 minutes, including a rare header, to make the score 6-1.

At this point, Real started to relax or tire. Probably both.

Stein got one back for Eintracht after 72 minutes but Di Stefano responded for his hat-trick three minutes later, before Stein nipped in to intercept a bad back pass and slot past Dominguez.

There have been other great games in recent times when serious silverware has been on the line, not least, from a British perspective, the Liverpool-Milan Champions League final in 2005. However, they did not revolutionise the thinking of coaches as much as this Real-Eintracht game.

Real Madrid parade the European CupReal Madrid parade the European Cup after their success at Hampden Park

Curiously, with the Europe seemingly at their feet, it was to be the final brilliant flourish of that great Real side. The next season they won La Liga by 12 points but they were drawn against Barcelona in the last 16 of the 1961 European Cup.

An inspired Luis Suarez, still the only Spaniard ever to be the European Footballer of The Year, got both goals as Barcelona drew 2-2 in the Santiago Bernabeu before beating beat Real 2-1 in the Camp Nou to bring the curtain down on their golden era.

Real were never quite the same again. Di Stefano and Puskas got older and the rest of Europe caught up with them. They reached the European Cup final twice in the next three years but Benfica and Inter Milan had the measure of their Spnaish rivals and no side has dominated European football in the same fashion since.

Comments on this blog in the space provided. Other questions on European football to: europeanfootball@hotmail.co.uk. I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.

Here is one from this week's postbag, which is appropriately about a German team as Bayern Munich fans are already starting to flood into Madrid.

I was wondering what has happened to Hertha Berlin, who finished fourth last year and were relegated this season? What has gone wrong?
Richard Browne, St Andrews, Scotland

Hertha's relegation leaves Germany as the only major European football nation whose capital is not represented in their top division. You might also have seen that on Monday they appointed the former German international and Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel, who also played four years at Liverpool, so I think they will be strong candidates to go straight back up.

What went wrong this year seems to be that behind-the-scenes turmoil lead to confidence and motivation in the dressing room going downhill.

They are debt to the tune of 33 million euros, and are under pressure from their banks to reduce the players' wage bill from 30 million euros a year to about half of that amount.

Nobody knew whether they were going to get sold or even if the club was going to be wound up. The club captain and German international defender Arne Friedrich, who is likely to be going to Wolfsburg, seemed to go through the motions for much of the season in response to the problems and many players appeared to follow his lead.

Comments

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  • 1. At 8:08pm on 19 May 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Good blog but you do not look old enough (Im not) to remember this game, you must have a video of this game. I take it Barcelona must have won the La Liga to qualify meeting Real Madrid as the holders or I am mistaken. I seem to remember only the winners of the individual leagues qualified for this competition.

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  • 2. At 8:08pm on 19 May 2010, Joel Hayes wrote:

    Great Article. Do you think you could compare the great Puskas etc to todays great? if so where do you think they stand???

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  • 3. At 8:47pm on 19 May 2010, The-pen-is-mightier wrote:

    Motherwell 6 Hibs 6 was surely every bit as good

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  • 4. At 8:51pm on 19 May 2010, Tonyob wrote:

    I remember watching this game with the family all riveted to the flickering tv. I saw Real Madrid at Old Trafford in 1957 & still feel Di Stefano is possibly the greatest player I have ever seen even to this day. I believe Bobby Charlton also shares this view. Were would he & Puskas be today? No one knows BUT real talent transcends generations

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  • 5. At 9:04pm on 19 May 2010, writtenbyfansforfans wrote:

    I am really looking forward to this year's final - it will be a change to not see an English club involved though! I have been living in Germany since October so have lived alongside devoted Bayern fans living every up and down of their season. I never would have given them a chance of the treble back in November but their transformation since has been nothing short of spectacular. I never thought, as an English man, I would be cheering a German side on but I am definitely rooting for Bayern this year, just like my new friends.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

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  • 6. At 9:23pm on 19 May 2010, micky_moodys_hat wrote:

    A fine period of time for the Spaniards but I wonder what might have been if the events of 6th February 1958 hadn't happened, not only for United but also for England in that summers world cup

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  • 7. At 9:25pm on 19 May 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    The sixties was abit before my time but I've seen abit of photage and read up on European football back then.

    Di Stefano and Puskas were class players. Puskas was part of the Hungarian team that was the first team to beat England at Wembley as well.

    Interesting idea for a blog. I'm sure the match was great entertainment for the nuterals as well as the Madrid fans.

    But I'd like to make 1 point - Madrids 5 wins in a row - not really all that to shout about. There was only a handful of teams that could have won it back then. The European cup was still in its infancy.

    It was in the 1960s when it really started to take off. Back in the late 50s it was just Madrid, Inter, and Benfica that were the only 'giants' of European football.

    Manchester United/Busby babies were just starting off then and that was after Busby defied the FA to play in Europe.

    The likes of Liverpool, Porto, Ajax, Lyon, Marsellie, Arsenal, Milan, Roma, Juve, Chelsea, PSV, G. Rangers, G.Celtic, etc were nowhere to be seen.

    And Barca couldn't beat Madrid to the title so they werent playing in it.

    The record books will always show 5 in a row. But not really that 'great' an achievement.

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  • 8. At 9:34pm on 19 May 2010, coleusman wrote:

    ZEEMO

    Eintracht won their semi-final against a very useful Rangers team.

    They won 6-1 in Germany. Then 6-3 at Ibrox.

    And STILL got pulped 7-3 in the Final. Real beat a great side in the 1956 & 1958 Finals & a great side(Busby Babes Utd) in the 1957 Semis.

    I first watched football aged 4 in 1956. I've STILL seen no one who was as complete a footballer as Di Stefano nor a quicker winger than Gento.

    As the other winger(Canario) was a box of tricks, Del Sol was a superb inside forward and Puskas for a one-footed fat 35 year old wasn't too bad either, they would have won it any year since, because no side since could keep them at bay for long enough.

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  • 9. At 9:50pm on 19 May 2010, Teiam - problem solved wrote:

    Really good blog, what I want to know is what do you see becoming of AC Milan, with Inter securing the title (narrowly) winning the Coppa Italia and making a champions league final it seems they're far too ahead of AC Milan and with AC having the older team it seems as though they're slipping away, what does the future hold for them in your opinion?

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  • 10. At 9:54pm on 19 May 2010, nick wrote:

    @ 1 Stev

    Yes, Barca won the 1960 La Liga by two points.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1959%E2%80%9360_La_Liga


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  • 11. At 9:55pm on 19 May 2010, nick wrote:

    Sorry, I meant to say goals.. my mistake. :P

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  • 12. At 9:58pm on 19 May 2010, Faustino wrote:

    I saw this wonderful game live on tv. One of the amazing things about it, which the scoreline doesn't indicate was that Eintracht played well - they hadn't got to the final through luck. Real, however, were sublime, surely one of the best performances of all time, from a team with some of the best players of all time.

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  • 13. At 10:05pm on 19 May 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    #8 coleusman - I'm not saying that they were not a great team or great players. The were. My maine point is that they didn't really have any great competition in the late 1950s which is when they won 5 in a row.

    You say yourself E. Frankfurt beat Rangers 12-4 on agg. Thay then lost 7-3. Rangers couldnt have been that 'very useful' as you put it.

    Its like making Barca play in this era for the next 5 years with only Spurs, Roma and maybe Seville playing in the compitition along with the likes of FC Bronby, FC Twente and all the other minnows from Iceland and Romania, etc.

    Chances are Barca will win 5 in a row but what achievement would that be?
    Great?

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  • 14. At 10:26pm on 19 May 2010, stroypa wrote:

    i dont know if that one game really made other teams switch to four at the back. i don't think one sided games are ever as good as open games either so in that respect i dont think it can be regarded as one of the best club games of all time. for me liverpool v milan is the best simply because of the drama.

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  • 15. At 00:16am on 20 May 2010, crokey wrote:

    It's only mentioned as an aside, but it seems incredible to me that in over fifty years, one Spanish footballer has won the Ballon d'Or. A lot of sources would consider Di Stefano a second, as I think he nationalized at some point, but still pretty amazing.

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  • 16. At 00:23am on 20 May 2010, BillKrats wrote:

    I was 13 when I watched this game in a bar in Belgium.

    I can still see Gento, Puskas and Di Stefano tearing the Eintracht defense apart. Probably the best game I have ever seen.

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  • 17. At 00:33am on 20 May 2010, THFC6061 wrote:

    Those ten goals scored in the 1960 European Cup Final remain the record highest score half a century later.

    The 1962 Final between Benfica and Real Madrid came close with a total 8 goals scored with the Portuguese side coming out on top 5-3.

    Six goals were scored in the 2005 Champions League Final, which Liverpool later won on penalties after the match finished 3-3 after extra time.

    Full details of every European Cup & Champions League Final from 1955-56 to 2008-09, together with the losing semi-finalists here:

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/EuropeanCupChampionsLeagueFinals1955-56to2008-09.html



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  • 18. At 00:53am on 20 May 2010, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    Amazed you didn't mention that this was Madrid's 5th Eurpean cup in a row, the following sentence is strange when you consider that fact;

    "Curiously, with the Europe seemingly at their feet, it was to be the final brilliant flourish of that great Real side".

    The whole game was shown on tv here in Australia about 10 years ago by SBS. I was surprised at the skill level and some of the tricks they were pulling off, maybe ignorantly I related that sort of thing to the more modern game.

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  • 19. At 01:18am on 20 May 2010, anstie wrote:

    I was 18 at the time and we went to the game after work - we worked Saturday morning then. We strolled up to the ground bought tickets and went in.
    When Eintracht scored first and then missed a couple of good chances we nodded wisely at each other confirming we were watching the end of a great team. I never was much of a judge.
    The moment I remember most was when Di Stefano was very miffed at Eintracht scoring, received the ball from the subsequent kick-off and pranced up the pitch and scored. He came back to the centre circle with a 'stuff you' look on his face.
    Although most of the crowd were neutrals, as was the case with most European matches in those days, we stayed in the grand old stadium for over half an hour.
    At least I can say 'I was there'!

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  • 20. At 02:44am on 20 May 2010, randommagician3 wrote:

    Probably your best blog so far, Phil.

    Marca's interesting feature on this match, including videos of the game and an interview with Di Stéfano - http://www.marca.com/2010/05/17/futbol/equipos/real_madrid/1274110241.html?a=7191032e719c5cd1df5bd9dd6ef712b0&t=1274319604

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  • 21. At 02:46am on 20 May 2010, weeeck wrote:

    16 at the time and Still remember game vividly,one offside in whole game,both teams going for it and skills were such an eye opener for us all so much so that when we played our Sunday games we were Puskas,Di Stafano etc
    at least for another year.Great memories

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  • 22. At 02:53am on 20 May 2010, ndebergerac wrote:

    Perhaps not the greatest game due it being such a one sided affair, but surely AC Milan's 4-0 thumping of Barcelona in 1994 must rank as the best performance of all time. Barcelona had some truly world class stars, but they were absolutely dominated all over the pitch from start to finish.

    There may have been more dramatic and closer finals (1999, 2005), but no other team has matched that performance since I started watching these games in the late 80's.

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  • 23. At 03:10am on 20 May 2010, weeeck wrote:

    ndebergerac writes maybe not best as too one sided then touts a 4-0 drubbing as best game.well no offence,as it was NOT one -sided and could have been 7-6
    We were there and it was non-stop end to end brilliant football from great players on both sides and possibly greatest game ever played as millions of people have testified. Real beat Barca 6-2 in semis and Eintracht beat Ragers 12-3 over the 2 games,so both teams were filled with class acts .
    Ndeber,wish you had been there.

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  • 24. At 05:01am on 20 May 2010, waldovski wrote:

    This article's writing style is as smooth as the teeth of a saw.

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  • 25. At 06:08am on 20 May 2010, thegreatNEb wrote:

    I have seen nothing of this match...but the best match I have ever seen considering the match, the teams, the score, the players involved, and the greater context of the two teams...was Manchester United Vs. Real Madrid Champions League Quarter Final 2nd Leg 2002/3

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  • 26. At 06:34am on 20 May 2010, Charlie wrote:

    A great reminder about a fabulous European Cup Final in 1960 but not quite factual. The German centre forward Stein scored all 3 goals for his team.

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  • 27. At 06:41am on 20 May 2010, Charlie wrote:

    Anstie says that at least he was there, not on a Saturday afternoon he wasn't The game was played midweek.

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  • 28. At 08:34am on 20 May 2010, Shugs wrote:

    Frankfurt were an amateur team at the time of this final though... Germany had no professional league until 63 I think... just regional amateur leagues.

    May explain some of the "astonishing defensive lapses by the Germans"

    Well before my time and I've never watched it but given the Madrid side of the time a heavy win was surely expected.

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  • 29. At 08:37am on 20 May 2010, Mikey wrote:

    I wasn't around to witness this game so can't really comment.. personally in recent memory for me Europa League served up 2 of the best games I've seen for a while this season. Unfortunately they were both on tv at the same time!! There was much cross channel changing... Fulham v Juventus and Werder Bremen v Valencia.. 2 really cracking games..

    A fav for everybody would still be the Liverpool v Newcastle game which finished 4-3... I personally think this game alone went some way in creating the monster that is now Sky Sports football.. they lived on that memory for some time after it and used it (I think) as a platform to sell and develop their product.

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  • 30. At 10:00am on 20 May 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    #13
    You say yourself E. Frankfurt beat Rangers 12-4 on agg. Thay then lost 7-3. Rangers couldnt have been that 'very useful' as you put it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    #8 is not way off the mark at all. Rangers were perhaps the best side in the UK at the time. It wasn't a time when there was a gulf between the Scottish and English leagues like today. Possibly only Arsenal could match Rangers at this point. It’s a very reasonable view to take. If EF took 12 off Rangers in a Euro semi it was a strong indication that they were more than just a very good side. That EF destroyed Rangers says much about how good a side they really were.

    Its hard to assess these games in the present day when only the elderly can actually remember seeing them ‘live’. So it is too easy to dismiss it as just another match. And this game like possibly the visit of the Hungarians to the UK in the 1950’s was important in shaping the type of football that came after it in the UK.

    I've never seen the game but my Dad was there that night as part of a local football team that were all taken to the game. He has always described this game as an ‘eye-opener’ for the Scottish footballing public: in terms of the tactics used and the technical ability of all the players, especially Puskas and di Stefano: and that EF were a very good side who just happened to come up against a great team which included these two.

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  • 31. At 10:24am on 20 May 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Make up your mind Zeemo, first you say no English clubs took part in the ealy days of the European Cup and the other big clubs didn't join in the Competition till later. Then when it is pointed out that Real Madrid beat Man U in 1957 you says it was in the later years there was no big clubs in it to compete with Real Madrid.

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  • 32. At 10:52am on 20 May 2010, The Realist wrote:

    I am not sold on that Real Madrid team. Since the late 1980's footballers have been fitter, faster, stronger and quicker thinking.

    Would they have won 5 in row these days? Not a chance.

    Would the 1950's/60's Madrid have won the Champions League at all? They wouldn't get passed the quarters's.

    Would they players have lasted a whole game? They would have been chucking up after 60 minutes with the speed of the game today.

    Having seen video footage of todays game and yesterdays game, todays teams would annihilate that Madrid team with ease.

    They were good for their time, but the sport is now professional. I don't consider it a proffessional sport back then, there were so many things that were amatuer level from attitude to fitness to training methods.

    I know there will be older people clinging on to memories of past, but that is all they are, memories. The sport has improved hugely since those old days.

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  • 33. At 10:56am on 20 May 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Its like making Barca play in this era for the next 5 years with only Spurs, Roma and maybe Seville playing in the compitition along with the likes of FC Bronby, FC Twente and all the other minnows from Iceland and Romania, etc.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sensless comparison in those days only league winners could qualify to play in the Europen Cup teams that come fourth like Spurs would not have qualified. Any team in the competition would heve been the best that its country could offer so Real Madrid beat the best team from the that country. Manchester United the best from Engand, Rangers the best Scotland Benfica the best from Portugal, Eintretch the best from Holland etc etc.

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  • 34. At 11:05am on 20 May 2010, The Realist wrote:

    Stev, he is exactly right. The best from England, Scotland and Holland were not that good.

    Todays players are superior atheletes and connect just as many passes at 2, or maybe, 3 times the speed and still run for longer throughout the game.

    Todays player avcerage between 9-11km a match, that is far more than the very much slower game of back then.

    If todays Spurs team was playing back then, they would have at the very least 1 European final winners medal but I expect more, because todays Spurs team would run rings around that Madrid team.

    The best of the best today is far superior to the best of the best back then, and the mediocre of the top leagues today are probably superior to the best of the best back then.

    Next you people will claim Pele would score more than Shearer if they were in the Premiership at the same time.

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  • 35. At 11:16am on 20 May 2010, Nick Wolf wrote:

    Adjusting to the context of the times that team was the best in history. Not only did it have Paco Gento and Alfredo di Stefano but even an overweight Ferenc Puskas was too much for any defence.

    Their reign only ended when Peñarol de Montevideo beat them in the Intercontinental Cup in 1961.

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  • 36. At 12:01pm on 20 May 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Todays players are superior atheletes and connect just as many passes at 2, or maybe, 3 times the speed and still run for longer throughout the game.

    Todays player avcerage between 9-11km a match, that is far more than the very much slower game of back then.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So todays trainig techniques and diet mean todays players are fitter. Had the players had the same trainng in those days they would all have been fitter, had the same the same equipment played with same lighter ball they would have been faster but Real Madrid would still have the most skill, and just as today that wins in the end.

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  • 37. At 12:30pm on 20 May 2010, TheScarlettWarrior wrote:

    Oh...so shall we just disregard any match that didn't take place in the last five-ten years? I can't believe all these people whinging on about football from the past. You can only beat what's put in front of you. It's like saying that any olympic gold medalist who's record has since been broken isn't great...hang on Rome, you controled most of the known world 2000 years ago, but you wouldn't last five minutes against a bunch of guerillas with AK-47s...honestly, you people are the dumbest of the dumb...I once came second in an inter schools 800 metre race at Gateshead stadium, but Kelly Holmes wasn't racing so it doesn't count...England won the world cup in 1966, but that's nothing because it was forty four years ago...need I go on? Any team thay wins The European Championship didn't do it by chance? five years in a row? That's epic, whether you won it last year or in 5000BC.The Realist is an idiot...the defeat of the Spanish Armada doesn't count 'cos the Spaniards didn't have U-boats or nuclear subs...Landing on the moon was rubbish...we could do it in half the time now...
    The modern game wouldn't be what it is today if it wasn't for the inspirational teams of the past and remember, football only exists because of its development; you don't expect a tree the day after you plant an acorn. By the Realist's view, Muhammed Ali probably isn't the greatest because they'll be someone stronger and fitter now...also, someone on here is claiming Frankfurt is in Holland...where do you people come from? All that seems to happen on BBC blogs is that some really nasty idiots feel it right to vent their spleen in cowardice behind the annonymity of the blog. The BBC keeping the memory of this type of thing alive can only be commended.

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  • 38. At 12:41pm on 20 May 2010, Aarfy_Aardvark - bring back 606 wrote:

    Ah Real Madrid - the Toronto Maple Leafs of European football.

    @7 - I think Real Madrid's success to 5 in a row was almost certainly facilitated by the Munich air disaster, which probably rid Manchester United of the European Cup that season. I have no doubt that side would have completely dominated Europe for a good few years under Matt Bubsy. I also don't know why you discredit Milan? They reached the semis in the inaugural European Cup and reached the final two years later. They were a very strong side in the 1950's and always finished strongly in the Latin Cup - which was the precursor to the modern European Cup.

    @Phil - Hertha's problems lie in the fact that they lost their two best strikers the season before (Pantelic and Voronin) as well as the experience of Simunic at the back. The players they brought in to replace them have been useless. Bringing in Christoph Janker to replace Simunic was laughable. However they have found a small gem in Gustavo Ramos - whom I expect to be shipped off to another German club in the summer. Despite Gegenbauer's costcutting measures at the club they could have stayed up had Lucien Favre not been so one dimensional and willing to adapt to what he had to work with.

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  • 39. At 1:35pm on 20 May 2010, rodders77 wrote:

    Couldn't agree more with 'TheScarlettWarrior' (37). It is impossible to compare football from different eras. Training techniques are different, more money in it now, the ball is different, lots of rules are different.

    This Real Madrid team put themselves up against the only teams willing to face them, and swept past them with ease. If you took them into the future and applied modern tactics with modern training techniques, I have no doubt they would be up there with the very best.

    One thing I would say is that games from pre 1960 can be a bit tedious to watch today. In terms of entertainment I think the product is better today, but there is more at stake.

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  • 40. At 6:51pm on 20 May 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Stev: “Good blog but you do not look old enough (Im not) to remember this game, you must have a video of this game.” Thank you for the compliment. You are right, I wasn’t born at the time of the game. In fact, I have not one but three VHS tapes of the game which were given away in various promotions by Spanish newspapers between 2000 and 2002 to celebrate Real’s last two Champions League victories and their centenary. Before anyone asks, no you can’t have one of the spare copies, I’m not breaking up the sets they belong to! However, I looked while I was writing the blog and DVDs of the game are available through various internet retailers and should cost you no more than seven quid in the UK.

    Joel Hayes: “Do you think you could compare the great Puskas etc to today’s great?” This is an almost impossible task, it’s like trying to compare Zatopek with Haile Gebrselassie in long distance running. As various people have pointed out, the changes in training methods, fitness regimes and tactics, among many other factors, mean that it’s best to think of them as great men for their time. It’s perhaps pertinent to remember that Puskas and Di Stefano still usually finishes in the top 10 of polls about ‘The Greatest Player Ever’ which do try to make some, admittedly unscientific, comparisons.

    micky_moodys_hat: “A fine period of time for the Spaniards but I wonder what might have been if the events of 6th February 1958 hadn't happened, not only for United but also for England in that summers world cup.” A very interesting question and any answer can, obviously, only be speculative. My own brief thoughts are that England might have progressed further at the 1958 World Cup, beating the Soviet Union in their playoff, but then would have got struggled to beat Sweden in the quarter-finals. United were knocked out in the semi-finals of the 1957 European Cup by Real Madrid and although they might have got past Milan in the 1958 semi-final, which they lost, I think that Real Madrid might still have been too good for them in the final. What might have happened in following seasons, it’s impossible to say.

    Teiam – problem solved: A good question about AC Milan but off-topic. Send it to me at europeanfootball@hotmail.co.uk, with your name and place where you come from, and I’ll try to answer it and the end of a blog in the coming weeks.

    Crokey: “it seems incredible to me that in over fifty years, one Spanish footballer has won the Ballon d'Or.” Well spotted, I should have written Spanish-born player. Di Stefano was the European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959 after he got Spanish citizenship.

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  • 41. At 7:40pm on 20 May 2010, ndebergerac wrote:

    weeck, we'll have to agree to disagree there, the game I remember was dominated by Milan with Barcelona not really showing up on the day. I doubt they even had 6 shots in them, never mind 6 goals.

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  • 42. At 8:57pm on 20 May 2010, Tom Halstead wrote:

    Hi Phil

    Great article - I love the stories of football before my lifetime so thank you.

    When talking about Hertha Berlin, you said:
    "They are debt to the tune of 33 million euros, and are under pressure from their banks to reduce the players' wage bill from 30 million euros a year to about half of that amount."

    Didn't you write an article a couple of months back about the strength of the German league and how they weren't in the same mess that Premiership clubs are in? I believe you stated that the debts are not allowed to spiral out of control like they have done in the Prem, thus protecting the security of the clubs and the league. So, how can Hertha Berlin have been allowed to get into this situation??!! Please could you explain this to me as I am rather confused!

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  • 43. At 00:50am on 21 May 2010, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    #25 thegreatNEb - Totally agree. The football Madrid played in both legs was some of the best I’ve ever seen, they were magical. I seem to remember Del Bosque being sacked at the end of that season after he’d won the European Cup and the league! I hope he returns to club football after he’s finished managing the national team. Maybe to Newcastle? Or Man City?

    #32 The Realist - have you watched the European Cup final of 1960? I don't think anyone is saying that if the 1960 Madrid team played a present day Chelsea it would be a close contest. Football is constantly developing and changing, not always in a good way. This game had a big impact on football, in a positive way.

    #33 Stev - I think you mean to say 'Eintracht the best from Germany', rather than Holland

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  • 44. At 01:29am on 21 May 2010, SydneyToon wrote:

    A wonderful game. I am far too young to have seen it live, but I've watched highlights on DVD and the level of skill was amazing. Of course, players had more time on the ball in those days, which really helped the quality of the passing.

    People sometimes forget how well Frankfurt played in the match and yet still lost 7-3.

    For those looking for comparisons I sometimes think Puskas and Di Stefano were like Shearer and Eto'o in their prime.

    ___________

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  • 45. At 10:08am on 21 May 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Well spotted fat bloke down the pub, but the point I was making is correct, only the best from each country could qualify in those days. Yes I also agree that the Real Madrid v Man U of 2003 games were spectacular I saw the first leg in Madrid, had a contract there and was living near the Bernabau at the time, Real Madrid scored three but it should have been more. But Real only won La Liga that season Del Bosque got the sack then Carlos Quiros? (not sure of spelling) after Beckham’s first season there. Carlos Q then went back to Man U and to spite Real I suspect, got a young fellow countryman Ronaldo to go there instead of the move he wanted to Real.

    I am sure someone will shout otherwise but from what I can see clips of the Busby babes the star of the team was Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards looks really strong but not as good a player as Bobby Charlton so I think Phil, who probably videos has videos of both teams, was making fair assessment in stating that the Real Madrid team was better and the result of 1957 would have been repeated had the two teams met again.
    I shall look out for videos of the 1950s team.

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  • 46. At 10:21am on 21 May 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Well spotted fat bloke down the pub, but the point I was making is correct, only the best from each country could qualify in those days. Yes I also agree that the Real Madrid v Man U of 2003 games were spectacular I saw the first leg in Madrid, had a contract there and was living near the Bernabau at the time, Real Madrid scored three but it should have been more. But Real only won La Liga that season Del Bosque got the sack then Carlos Quiros? (not sure of spelling) after Beckham’s first season there. Carlos Q then went back to Man U after it seems having got a young fellow countryman Ronaldo to go there instead of the move he wanted to Real.

    I am sure someone will shout otherwise but from what I can see clips of the Busby babes the star of the team was Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards looks really strong but not as good a player as Bobby Charlton so I think Phil, who probably videos has videos of both teams, was making fair assessment in stating that the Real Madrid team was better and the result of 1957 would have been repeated had the two teams met again.
    I shall look out for videos of the 1950s team.

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  • 47. At 07:28am on 22 May 2010, bosun4 wrote:

    I was at the Real v Eintracht game and, as usual, left the ground 5/10 mins before the end to avoid the usual post match traffic. The surrounding streets were empty, I think ma and 3 pals were the only fans to leave early. I only saw the last few minutes and presetations a few years back on an old replay. A small point. Prior to this final the quality of Hampden games was generally below expectations. This was blamed on the so called 'Hampden Swirl' caused by the wind being caught in the Hampden bowl...well... this game put paid to that for ever...the previous poor quality was down to the standard of football. Great players on both sides and an advert for attacking football although the game is much faster now and played at a very high tempo for 90mins.... mind you Gento would not be out of place.

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  • 48. At 10:19am on 22 May 2010, Sam wrote:

    Great blog Phil! To what tune do you think Franco's involvement with Real Madrid helped them? There is no doubt that he fixed other competitions (Eurovision of course !!!) and that Real were 'his' club and I have heard things about him fixing the domestic tournament and certainly acting against Barcelona. There was also a scandal regarding Di Stefano's transfer wasn't there? Something like he had been signed by Barcelona but pressure from the authorities meant he went to Real Madrid in the end.

    They were certainly shady and horrific times for the country as a whole and it always makes me think twice when hearing about Real Madrid's acheivements. Which is a shame as I'm sure that most of the time 11 talented footballers were going out just to do what they loved...

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  • 49. At 11:08am on 22 May 2010, itsonlyagame - R9 The Number of the Beast wrote:

    32. At 10:52am on 20 May 2010, The Realist wrote:
    I am not sold on that Real Madrid team. Since the late 1980's footballers have been fitter, faster, stronger and quicker thinking. Would they have won 5 in row these days? Not a chance. Would the 1950's/60's Madrid have won the Champions League at all? They wouldn't get passed the quarters's. Would they players have lasted a whole game? They would have been chucking up after 60 minutes with the speed of the game today.
    -----------

    Alexander the Great and his army weren't really all that great either - put them up in an open field against today's U.S. Forces and they'd be obliterated.
    Also, why all the fuss about Jesse Owens, where would he get now in the events he entered in Berlin?
    Some people, honestly.

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  • 50. At 11:25am on 22 May 2010, itsonlyagame - R9 The Number of the Beast wrote:

    To what tune do you think Franco's involvement with Real Madrid helped them? There is no doubt that he fixed other competitions (Eurovision of course !!!) and that Real were 'his' club and I have heard things about him fixing the domestic tournament and certainly acting against Barcelona.
    ------
    Hi Sam.
    Much has been written on these subjects, but few people look at cold facts too often:
    Franco took power in 1939, after a 3-year Civil War.
    Before then, under the legitimately elected Republic that Franco revolted against, Real Madrid were simply called Madrid C.F. without the monarchist "Royal" tag. They were in fact the most successful team together with Athletic Bilbao in the 6 years the Republic lasted.
    Madrid have been said to have been Franco's team, partly through his friendship with Santiago Bernabéu, but kop this:
    It took Real Madrid all of 15 seasons after Franco took power to win the Spanish league. Bernabéu had been chairman for 11 of those years.
    The most successful Spanish clubs in that time were FC Barcelona, followed by Atlético Madrid (then Atlético Aviación, the Air Force team) and Athletic Bilbao. As any other football club, Barcelona's chairmen were appointed via their regional FA's, run by direct appointment of the regime. In other words, to be the chairman of any big club in those days you needed to have close links to or in the regime. In all, FC Barcelona were Spain's 2nd most successful team under Franco, winning just 3 or 4 domestic titles less than Madrid over a 40-year period.
    The above information is factual, bare facts that are not a matter of opinion or hearsay and that cannot be manipulated. There are many accounts of how Franco allegedly favoured Real Madrid. In my opinion, if you look at how things happened chronologically, it seems much more reasonable to think that the club attracted the dictator's/regime's interest when it's propaganda potential became evident and that he then used it as his toy. Madrid's domination in the 1960s could be viewed as suspect; not so their dominance beforehand, because they simply did not dominate.

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  • 51. At 3:03pm on 22 May 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Tom Halsted: “Didn't you write an article a couple of months back about the strength of the German league and how they weren't in the same mess that Premiership clubs are in?” I’m not quite sure which article you are referring to but certainly there are more controls in place in the Bundesliga ensure more financial stability than seemingly evident in many other leading European nations and to try to stop clubs accruing excessive debt however, as Hertha have shown, they are not 100% foolproof.

    On a final note, I belatedly came across this quote from Matt Busby, who was also at the game, which he apparently said shortly after the final whistle.

    “I have never seen footballers like them. Puskas ran the show. He was like a god with Di Stefano and Gento his angels.”

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  • 52. At 3:56pm on 22 May 2010, anstie wrote:

    #27 - Charlie is absolutely right. A friend of mine also picked me up on that. My memory isn't as good as it used to be. I assumed a Saturday as we went straight from work and most matches were on a Saturday then. However we obviously went after work. Still - 'I was there!'

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  • 53. At 5:12pm on 17 Mar 2011, alfieR wrote:

    Great quote from Sir Matt ("I have never seen footballers like them. Puskas ran the show. He was like a god with Di Stefano and Gento his angels") Would have loved to have been there.

    http://www.itsnotcatenaccio.com

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  • 54. At 10:16am on 15 May 2011, David J wrote:

    The 1960 European Cup Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt is considered by many to be the greatest ever played.

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