The most prestigious club competition in Europe is undoubtedly the UEFA Champions League (formerly the European Cup); a mixed league/knockout format tournament. You may be familiar with it. And the most prestigious game within the tournament is, obviously, the final.
Those interested will have watched Bayern Munich beat PSG 1-0 on Sunday night to win the 2020 version.
The question is: Have any Norwich City players or personnel been involved in any UEFA Champions League/European Cup finals?
The answer is ‘yes’ – although to differing extents. Let’s have a quick plop over the channel to take a look at some of those major Euro football nights and check out the connections: tenuous, not so tenuous, and the nailed-on bona fide…
RYAN BERTRAND – 2012 UEFA Champions League Final
Bertrand, once a rampaging left-sided Canary, made his Champions League debut in 2012. In the final no less. Not a bad place to start. He played 70 minutes of the game for Chelsea, who won the trophy edging out Bayern Munich on penalties.
(Ryan Bertrand – NCFC record: Player, 60 apps, 0 goals, 2007/08 – 2008/09)
THOMAS HELVEG – 2003 UEFA Champions League Final
Enigmatic talent. Played twice for AC Milan in their successful Champions League campaign of 2002/03, the final of which they won on penalties against Juventus. Was an unselected squad member for the final.
(Thomas Helveg – NCFC record: Player, 23 apps, 0 goals, 2004/05)
PAUL LAMBERT – 1997 UEFA Champions League Final
UEFA Champions League winner. Played the whole final for Borussia Dortmund, beating Valencia 3-1.
(Paul Lambert – NCFC record: Manager, 142 games, 2009/10 – 2011/12)
PATRIK ANDERSSON – 2001 UEFA Champions League Final
Andersson was a red-hot transfer target for Mike Walker who wanted him to shore up our defence halfway through our best season in 1992/93. Unfortunately the transfer was vetoed by chairman Robert Chase and we missed out on him and he went to Blackburn instead. Andersson went on to play for Barcelona and Bayern Munich – where he won the Champions league in 2000/01 on penalties against Valencia (although he missed one). He also won 96 caps for Sweden who finished third in World Cup 1994 and reached the European Championships semi-finals in 1992.
Do we have a ‘what if’ section?
(Patrik Andersson – NCFC record: Tut. Almost.)
DAVID HODGSON – 1984 European Cup Final
Vulpinely aggressive striker. Unused substitute as Liverpool beat Roma on penalties.
(David Hodgson – NCFC record: Player, 9 apps, 4 goals, 1986/87)
RICHARD MONEY – 1981 European Cup Final
Talented defender. Money was transferred from Fulham to First Division champions Liverpool in 1980. He played alongside Clemence, Hansen, Souness and Dalglish in the European Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich (which they won on away goals courtesy of Ray Kennedy’s equaliser, after a 0-0 draw in the home leg). Alas, in the final, Money sat the game out as an unused substitute.
Popular with the Fulham faithful, his move to Merseyside was referenced in TV’s Minder by the Fulham-supporting character Terry McCann, who said, ‘Fancy selling Money to Liverpool – it’s criminal!’
Born in Lowestoft and a lifelong Norwich fan, Money spent a year on City’s backroom staff in 2016.
(Richard Money – NCFC record: Academy Director, 2016)
MARTIN O’NEILL – 1979 & 1980 European Cup Finals
Verbose midfielder (and ex-neighbour of mine. Shhh!). Unused substitute in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 win over Malmo in 1979.
Also played the full match in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 win over Kevin Keegan’s Hamburger SV in 1980.
(Martin O’Neill – NCFC record: Player, 55 apps, 11 goals, 1981 & 1982/83; Manager, 26 games, 1995/96)
JOHN ROBERTSON – 1979 & 1980 European Cup Finals
Tricky winger with deceptive body shape. Played the full 90 minutes for Nottingham Forest and provided the cross for Trevor Francis’s winning header against Malmo in 1979. (Remember the concrete hammer circle that Francis fell onto when scoring? That always looked quite painful to me.)
Not only played the full match for Forest against Hamburger SV the following year but also scored the only goal!
(John Robertson – NCFC record: Assistant Manager to Martin O’Neill, 26 games, 1995/96)
CHRIS WOODS – 1979 European Cup Final
Ultra-reliable top keeper. Unused substitute in Forest’s 1-0 win over Malmo.
(Chris Woods – NCFC record: Player, 267 apps, 0 goals, 1981/82 – 1985/86)
DAVID FAIRCLOUGH – 1977 & 1978 European Cup Finals
Legendary strawberry-blonded supersub. Unused substitute in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in 1977.
The following year he partnered Kenny Dalglish up front for the full 90 minutes in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Club Brugge. Dalglish got the winning goal.
(David Fairclough – NCFC record: Player, 2 apps, 0 goals, 1984/85)
Ah, memories… Guess it’s time to close the nostalgia box for the time being and look to the future.
You’d like to think there will be 11 players from the same side on the same day all wearing yellow who will one day win it. That cup would look quite nice on display in the trophy cabinet in the Carrow Road boardroom.
We’re not there yet but, who knows… one day?