ONE of the reasons Alex Ferguson did not retire as planned a few years ago, was his burning desire to win the European Cup at least one more time. He felt that a club like Manchester United should have won the trophy more often. Compare United’s three wins to Real Madrid’s nine, and AC Milan’s seven.
It was today in 1963 that Milan got their European trophy cabinet collection started when they won the competition for the first time.
In the early days Real Madrid enjoyed something of a monopoly on the cup, winning it for each of the first five years it was held.
It was Benfica who finally wrestled it away from Real in 1961, and then retained it the following year, Eusebio helping the Portuguese club to a 5-3 win over Real in the 1962 final.
Benfica made it three finals on the trot in 1963 but this time Milan were waiting for them, and their defence was not nearly as charitable as Real’s had been in 1962.
But it was the Italian side that conceded first in the showpiece game that was being held at Wembley Stadium for the first time. Eusebio scored after 18 minutes but that would prove to be all the joy he and Benfica got all night.
In the second half Milan hit back thanks to Brazilian striker José Altafini who scored twice in eight minutes to give them a 2-1. For the rest of the match the Italians’ defence, led by Giovanni Trapattoni, held firm and Milan took the victory and prevented Benfica from sealing a hat-trick of European Cup wins.
The Cup was brought back to Milan in each of the following two years but not by AC Milan; cross-city rivals Internazionale were instead victorious.
Milan’s seven wins in the competition make dismal reading for fellow Italian giants Juventus who have just two European Cup wins to their name. The second came today in 1996 – as chirpy newspaper boys in the 1930s used to say “read all about it here”.
More tomorrow readers so until then, don’t have nightmares…