Champions League Best Ever... Moments from Wayne Rooney to Jerzy Dudek

Matt Jones - Editor 10:49 01/06/2019
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Jerzy Dudek

The two sides entering the Metropolitano Stadium on June 1 can legitimately be pinned up against some of the great European sides witnessed during the competition’s rich history.

Ahead of this blockbuster encounter between Tottenham and Liverpool we’re running a series on Europe’s elite competition called the ‘Best Ever…’ and on this occasion we’re examining the greatest moments to have emerged from the tournament.

Trimming the list down to five is an enormously tricky task and any one of the five picked hold claim to top spot.

But here is our look at the five best European Cup/Champions League moments.

1. PUYOL’S PERFECT GESTURE

The greatest moment in Champions League history wasn’t a goal or a save, or a game-clinching moment. It didn’t even take place within the 90 minutes.

When Pep Guardiola’s brilliant Barcelona claimed their fourth title after beating Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley in 2011, Carles Puyol was about to become the first player to touch the trophy in triumph at Wembley. Except, the Blaugrana skipper had been planning something else for a few weeks should his side be victorious.

Barca left-back Eric Abidal had been diagnosed with liver cancer in March 2011, but recovered in time to play the full 90 minutes of the final.

Captain Puyol didn’t start because of a knee injury and passed the captain’s armband to Xavi. However, Guardiola substituted Puyol on in the 88th minute with the game won. Xavi immediately returned the armband to Puyol, conceding the right to lift the trophy as well.

Puyol has since said his most special moment in his 15 years as a Barca player was the moment he handed Abidal the captain’s armband to allow him to lift the trophy.

“When Xavi said I should lift the cup, I knew at once what I had to do,” said Puyol. “It was a special moment for me, a legendary moment, you could say. It showed why football is the most beautiful game.”

2. DUDEK’S BRUCE ALMIGHTY AUDITION

Steven Gerrard’s determination and Liverpool’s spirit are credited with being the catalyst behind the Reds’ stunning comeback to topple superior AC Milan in the 2005 final.

But Jerzy Dudek’s saves in the penalty shootout and Bruce Grobbelaar-inspired antics don’t often get the credit they deserve.

“Carra (Jamie Carragher) came up to me like he was crazy,” Dudek has said of the shootout. “He grabbed me and said, ‘Jerzy, Jerzy, Jerzy – remember Bruce [Grobbelaar]. He did crazy things to put them off in 1984. You have to do the same’. He told me I would be the hero.”

And how right he was.

Dudek was in character from the very first spot kick when he approached referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez appearing to gesture that his gloves were slippery and he wanted a towel. He danced along his line in an attempt to fluster Serginho, who slammed his kick over the bar, and tried to psyche out Milan’s players by handing them the ball as they walked towards the spot.

Andrea Pirlo’s tame effort was saved by a crouching Dudek. Jon Dahl Tomasson and Kaka both scored – the famous Grobbelaar spaghetti legs movement hadn’t put off the Brazilian. But he saved from Andriy Shevchenko, who still looked shell-shocked from Dudek’s remarkable double save from him in extra time, to complete a remarkable triumph.

3. ROO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT?

“Wayne Rooney has scored for Manchester United. And it’s not the last time you’ll hear that,” were the words of commentator Clive Tyldesley. Indeed, it wasn’t the last time we’d hear that. In fact, we heard it twice more that night as the teenager, a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday, completed a hat-trick on his Red Devils’ debut in a 6-2 Champions League win over Fenerbahce.

He would go on to score 250 more in a glittering 13-year career at Old Trafford which saw him surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as the club – and even England’s – top scorer with 253. There were some spectacular and crucial strikes among the haul, as well as 12 major trophies, but that night lives long in the memory for United fans.

All eyes were on Rooney, making his first appearance in a United shirt since his £27 million move from Everton that 2004 summer, but this was no awe-struck teenager, paralysed by fear featuring in the same XI as Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy. It was his moment, and he owned it.

He ran onto the Dutchman’s delightful through ball to punch in his first, rifling in his second 11 minutes later after dummying a defender. Before the hour he’d curled in a brilliant free-kick for his hat-trick goal.

4. A REAL APPETITE FOR SUCCESS

Injuries, mistakes, poor form and luck have all played a part in defeats in major finals, but one of the European Cup’s greatest moments almost never happened – because of a sandwich, allegedly.

Ahead of the 1987 final between Porto and Bayern Munich, so the story goes, Porto’s Algerian forward Rabah Madjer got a bad case of the midnight munchies.

Ravenous Rabah was caught sneaking out of the team’s camp by his assistant coach, who was furious, and told the manager, Artur Jorge, who was similarly angered.

So incensed by Rabah’s rabid cravings, the club apparently wanted the mercurial forward sacked, but fans protested and the starving striker received a stay of execution.

It was a good job he did as he carved up Bayern and served up the equalising goal, and also laid the winner on a plate for Brazil’s Juary, as Porto won 2-1 to feast on their first title.

The 60-year-old is surely still dining out on his goal, an impish back-heeled finish. The best thing since sliced bread? Certainly in Arab football as Madjer remains the only Arab player to win the European Cup.

5. I AIN’T GETTING ON NO PLANE FOOL

BeFunky-collage - 2019-05-21T174903.501

Fear can often have a crippling effect, while on the other hand it can be a magnificent motivator. For Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone, both were true in terms of his morbid fear of flying.

Hoops manager Jock Stein used this to great effect during his side’s 1968/69 European Cup campaign, when he told Johnstone before the home leg of their second round clash with Red Star Belgrade that ‘Jinky’ would be allowed to stay at home for the Yugoslavia trip if Celtic won by four goals or more.

The elusive winger went on to arguably produce his finest performance in a green and white shirt as he netted twice and provided assists for two more as the hosts hammered Red Star 5-1.

They would need more than bribes and fear of flying to wing their way past AC Milan in the quarter-finals though – the Rossoneri won 1-0 on aggregate and went on to lift the trophy.

Know more about Sport360 Application

Recommended

Most popular