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By the beginning of June 1971, most British footballers
had their feet up on a beach somewhere in the sun, their toil
over for another season; for the players of Leeds United, though,
there was no such peace and tranquillity. On the third day of
the month they faced a showdown with Juventus of Turin in the
decisive second leg of the European Fairs Cup final, with the
opportunity to secure some silverware after two long seasons that
had so far yielded nothing but hard luck stories and disappointing
United could prepare for the game with the comforting
memory of a 2-2 draw from the first leg
in Italy; should the return at Elland Road also end with the
honours even, the two away goals would be gold in the bank.
United's goals in Turin had come from highly unusual
sources, Paul Madeley and Mick Bates, neither man renowned for
his exploits in front of goal.
Don Revie was
able to select the same starting eleven, which meant that Bates
was again on the bench. For Juve, the only change was Roberto
Tancredi in goal for Massimo Piloni, faulted for at least one
of the goals in the first game. His absence, though, was down
to a broken bone in his hand rather than any tactical selection.
Revie had seen enough of the exciting young Italian
side to know that this would be no cakewalk to glory. They had
some outstanding ball players with sufficient artistry and invention
to rip opposing defences to shreds if they were given the opportunity.
Nevertheless, United's experienced rearguard were past masters
at denying any such openings, and Revie was convinced they would
Leeds had applied for permission to have the match
televised by the BBC after the two parties agreed a £10,000 deal.
The Football Association rejected that request out of hand, arguing
that there was enough televised football already in the shape
of the European Cup final between Ajax and Panathinaikos at Wembley.
It seems an archaic attitude these days, but the FA were steadfast,
a spokesman saying, "As far as we are concerned there is no live
showing of the Fairs Cup final. A second application will not
alter that decision. We have told Leeds of our decision and that
is final. Also, there will be no highlights of the match televised
on Thursday evening ... one live football match on television
a week is enough."
Despite the disappointing news, United had already
profited considerably from reaching the final, as reported by
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "There is gold in these European
hills of football for those who do well. Tonight Elland Road will
have 50,000 spectators. Last week the two attendances in Turin
amassed a total of some £250,000 for a match and a half, with
the cheapest standing place on the terraces costing £1 and seats
in the open at £6 apiece. At Wembley, too, last night for the
European Cup final, the takings reached £183,000."
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Green felt United were equipped for success: "If
allowed to get their tails up, Juventus could
cause a lot of trouble. But temperamentally and physically they
look suspect. Each time Leeds caught them with a goal they wilted
for a spell and over the last quarter of an hour it was the Yorkshire
side who were fitter, stronger and dominant. It was the Juventus
frills in a setting of close passing down the middle against the
Leeds open, economical style based on experience, solidity, team
spirit and a tactical wider use of the length and breadth of the
field that offered such an interesting contrast."
The United team that took the Elland Road pitch
boasted a sharp new look; their shirts were missing the customary
owl badge, now replaced by a scripted LUFC symbol, and there were
uniformly short sleeves to mitigate the summer temperatures. Schemer
Johnny Giles also sported a change of image with a Mexican-style
drooping moustache, a real rarity for a player under Revie's tutelage.
The whiskers would be gone by the start of the following campaign.
Juventus won the toss and Gary Sprake had to shield
his eyes from fierce evening sunlight in the first half. The wind
was also in the Italians' favour at the start, but it was Leeds
who made the early running, knowing that an early goal would consolidate
As in the first leg, they were committed to extensive
use of the high cross. Revie calculated that the Italians would
struggle to cope with Leeds' aerial ability and it certainly gave
them something to think about. They were caught standing almost
wide eyed in awe of their hosts' physical threat whenever the
ball was airborne.
Terry Cooper was soon onto the offensive with the
first of a host of sparkling runs down the flank. The left-back
was prominent throughout the contest, as was Giles, who showcased
his entire range of creative passing.
With twelve minutes gone, United got the breakthrough
they craved. The referee awarded them a free kick out on the left
about five yards from the corner of the area and Jack
Charlton went forward to take his customary place in the area.
When Bremner floated it towards the far post, Charlton rose with
his markers to challenge for it, but it dropped loose. Lorimer
moved in for the strike but a Juve defender blocked him and the
ball bobbled free. Clarke was on it in a split second, swivelling
at pace to turn and fire first time into the bottom left hand
corner of the net with Tancredi powerless to prevent the goal.
It was a masterpiece of finishing.
When Leeds then twice went close in a matter of
minutes to increasing their lead it seemed they would overpower
the visitors. Clarke's curled effort and Madeley's drive each
threatened a goal, but Juve proved they were no easy touch by
drawing level in the twentieth minute.
Causio intercepted Madeley's crossfield pass to
Cooper and sprang off swift interplay with Furino that brought
them within touching distance of the United box. Anastasi ghosted
away from his marker to glide free on the right and take the ball,
sliding it past Sprake. It was another breathtaking finish and
the Italians' incisive penetration was a wonder to behold. This
clearly would be a severe test for Revie's men.
United shaded the first half, although Anastasi
came close to giving Juve the
lead. He had already given clear evidence of his ability to hold
off tackles while waiting for support from his team mates, and
this tactic was troubling Leeds' defenders. In their apprehension,
the rearguard back pedalled away from him, allowing him the opportunity
to work his way into a shooting position. He rode another tackle
but then shot wide with only Sprake to beat.
Just before the interval Tancredi produced the save
of the night to fingertip a header from Jones over the bar.
Upon the resumption Madeley clashed heads accidentally
with Marchetti. He had to be withdrawn on a stretcher and needed
three stitches in a cut eye. Bates came on to replace him.
The Italians exerted some dominance over the following
quarter of an hour as they enjoyed a period of pressure. Leeds
withstood the challenge, however, and began to display the calm
assurance that was their trademark. However, their readiness even
this early in the contest to settle for the draw which would secure
the trophy was a little surprising and ill advised. They opted
for possession football and the economical, crablike shuffle sideways
that had been a feature of their play in the Sixties.
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Juventus had enough about them to sustain a forward
threat and Sprake needed to be at his best to save a magnificent
drive from Furino after a fine turn. However, the Italians also
seemed reluctant to commit themselves fully to attack and were
content to wait for Leeds to come out, seeking to catch them on
the counter attack.
With fifteen minutes of the contest remaining, Salvadore
was booked for scything down Cooper while he was on another of
his many forward sorties.
A couple of minutes later there was even more trouble.
Cooper put a centre into the box and as Tancredi fell to the floor
with the ball, Bates struck out as it ran loose. He accidentally
kicked Tancredi and was promptly set upon by a posse of protesting
Italians, one of whom appeared to punch him. That was the signal
for a mass fracas, but referee Rudi Glockner quickly and calmly
For the most part, however, there was merely a game
of cat and mouse as United sought to keep their extravagant opponents
at safe arm's length.
With both sides opting for caution, there were few
openings of any real merit, suiting the Yorkshiremen down to the
In the end, Leeds simply had too much experience
of Fairs Cup football, were
too adept at the black arts of containing football, to be caught
out by all Juve's quick thoughts and movement. The Italians were
superb in midfield but that was not enough against the strength
and resilience of the United rearguard.
Juventus could not fashion another opening. The
1-1 draw at 90 minutes left the aggregate score at three apiece,
with Leeds the victors by virtue of the greater number of away
It was hard luck on the Italians, who had gone through
the entire competition without a defeat. Nevertheless, the rules
had been clear from the start of the competition, and United had
experienced enough heartache and near things over the years to
afford too much sympathy for their opponents.
Billy Bremner and his men got a standing ovation
from the crowd as they went up to collect the trophy. But there
was applause, too, for Juve, who had helped to make it such an
exciting and impressive series of matches. Causio, Haller, Anastasi,
Furino and Capello had been outstanding and pushed United hard.
But it was generally acknowledged that it was the home men, Cooper
and Giles, who were the stars of the night.
Geoffrey Green in the Times: "With a traditional
swapping of shirts, Leeds stood back to applaud Juventus off the
field. When they came to make their own lap of honour wearing
the blue attire of their foe there was Bremner to hand the trophy
first to Cooper as the team trotted round at Elland Road, which
was now a waving sea of white scarves and banners. Cooper indeed
was the Leeds man of the match.
"My Italian colleagues were loud in their praise
of the England full-back as time after time he pressurised the
Italians with overlapping runs and dribbles down the left flank.
Where he got the energy from at the end of such a long season
was remarkable. Yet Leeds won with no real swagger and without
their usual snap of earlier months. And who should wonder at it
after such a long drag of a season. They were tired and none more
than Bremner and Giles on whom they rely so much for their midfield
domination and scheming.
"This was a match two degrees better, at least in
class, from the previous night's European Cup final. Ajax, the
winners of that trophy, would not have won this one. Only Cruyff
would have lived with some of the silky football displayed here
by men like Haller, a restless midfield piston; or Anastasi, a
player of beautiful balance and swift as a goldfish on the turn,
a centre-forward who kept Charlton to the full extent of his long
stretch from beginning to end. There was Causio also, Italy's
Footballer of the Year, and at the heels of the attack the restless,
aggressive little Furino. He was a veritable fury.
"The occasion may have lacked all the colour and
the noise of Wembley 24 hours earlier, but the football was of
a higher, sophisticated standard and greatly enjoyed by the crowd
who cheered the Italians off the field."
Phil Brown in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "It took
a tremendous effort for United
to maintain this double effort. Even Norman Hunter was looking
weary and that above all else shows the amount of strain United
have been through because if there is an iron man in British football
today it is Norman Hunter.
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"It was good to see the two men who have been United's
stars of the season be the stars of the last match. Terry Cooper
and Johnny Giles were astonishingly good, as good as they have
ever been in their careers. Both would be in any world side had
I call to pick one today.
"Juventus had nothing like United's near faultless
team play in either attack or defence but they certainly had a
quality in midfield which carried real threat. United did well
to hold them to one goal, and midfielder Madeley got very high
marks for his stamina, positioning and reading of play. He was
badly hurt in the second half. He has been such a tower of strength
all season that it is footballing injustice that he was not in
the United side when it made its lap of honour."
Cestmír Vycpálek, the Juventus coach: "Leeds played
very well and deserved to win. But we have played well here and
I was pleased with our performance. Cooper is a very good player
and in my opinion the best No 3 in the world today. My players
cannot get over how good he is."
Don Revie: "Juventus are an exceptionally good side
and in the next few years they will be the team everyone has to
beat. We knew it wouldn't be easy for us, but we won and I am
proud of the lads. I am thrilled to bits for all the players and
staff and particularly for our supporters who have shared all
our disappointments in recent times.
"Although Juventus are a world class side I thought
my lads showed their character to win through ... Haller was tremendous.
He has been a world class player for some time and he showed it
against us. Anastasi played much better here than he did in Turin,
but I thought Jackie Charlton played him well.
"I have always said that the Fairs Cup is almost
as difficult to win as the European Cup, and I saw no reason to
change my mind this season. When you play sides of the calibre
of Dynamo Dresden, Liverpool and Juventus, how can it be easy?"
Billy Bremner: "After all our disappointments of
the past couple of seasons it was a great feeling showing off
the Fairs Cup at the end of Thursday night's game with Juventus.
When I got that trophy in my hands, everything suddenly became
worthwhile again. Gone was the feeling of frustration and despair
we at Elland Road have felt so often. In its place was a sense
"I know we didn't wipe the floor with Juventus to
win by a big margin and had in the end to rely on our away goals
to give us the trophy, but this was the final of a European competition
and any side that gets so far is bound to have talent and ability.
"Juventus are a very skilful side, hard and fast
and as they are basically a young one they are going to get even
better. In a couple of years if they maintain their progress,
they will be a side to be feared. They gave us a gruelling match,
and because of this and their undoubted skill, it made winning
the trophy all the more satisfying.
"I know it has been said that we could have attacked
more than we did
in the second half but we decided to play it a little safer in
the second period. Italians are masters of breaking out of defence
with devastating speed and accuracy and they had the forwards
to cash in on such tactics. That is the way they play the game
in Italy and that is the way they wanted to play it at Elland
Road. They were dying for us to come at them. They stood back
in defence waiting for us to surge forward and it was tempting.
But had we done so we would have been suckers for the counter
punch. So we declined the invitation to Fairs Cup suicide and
sat back ourselves waiting for them to come. After all they needed
a goal at that stage far more than we did. Six seasons in Europe
have taught us plenty. We are not chumps and we proved this to
the Italians by becoming Fairs Cup champs.
"Our plan worked and to anyone who may have doubted
our policy I can only say that the Cup is in our headquarters
and not in Turin."
The shiny silver trophy that Bremner lifted at the
end of the game marked a tremendous reward for all their efforts
and disappointments since they had won
the League championship in 1969. To have gone through a second
successive campaign without any material reward would simply have
been too much to bear. As it was, they could bask in the glory
of another European triumph and enjoy the champagne that flowed
in the dressing rooms after the game was over. It was something
of a low key triumph in the shade of Arsenal's League and Cup
double, but due consolation for their hard work.
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