Let’s all meet up in the year 2000

Mark Lovell (twitter @LovellLowdown) recalls a Champions League clash between German and English sides – both with an extremely passionate and loyal following.

Both TSV 1860 Munich and Leeds United currently languish in the second tier of their respective country’s leagues after suffering the humiliation of financial implosion.

Back in August 2000, the ‘Lions’ of Munich and the ‘Peacocks’ from Leeds met in a two- legged qualifier, with the winners guaranteed a sum in the region of £25m for simply reaching the group stages – so long ago that the Deutschmark (and not the Euro) was still in circulation.

1860 Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions in 1966 before their ‘noisy neighbours’ Bayern Munich had a lot to shout about. However, 1860 had never beaten English opposition, most famously losing to West Ham in the 1965 Cup Winners Cup final at Wembley. As recently as 1991, the Lions were plying their trade in the regional Bavarian leagues, after being denied a licence to play top-flight football, before rising up the league pyramid to the brink of Champions League qualification under brusque coach Werner Lorant.

Under the tutelage of Don Revie, Leeds United were the dominant side of the late 60s and early 70s in England. Between 1965 and 1974, Revie’s side never finished outside of the top four, winning two League Championships (1968-69; 1973-74), the FA Cup (1972), the League Cup (1968) and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968 and 1971).

A host of famous names from Leeds’ illustrious past made the trip to the Bavarian capital, gracing the media entourage. Johnny Giles, Joe Jordan and Peter Lorimer, as well as assistant Eddie Gray, were a reminder of the club’s glory days.

Leeds did have bitter memories of a previous clash with a Munich side after losing to Bayern in the 1975 European Cup final. On that night in Paris, Leeds considered themselves very hard done by. Bayern won 2-0, but not before the French referee had disallowed Lorimer’s seemingly valid goal and denied Leeds two clear-cut penalties. These decisions and the dismal defeat had sparked riots in the crowd, resulting in a European ban and a slump in the English club’s fortunes.

The Leeds side of 2000 was about to embark on some massive spending under Chairman Peter Risdale’s regime. The Yorkshire giants had every intention of “living the dream”, to ensure footballing success.

The English side travelled to Munich holding a slender 2-1 advantage from the first leg at Elland Road. Ex-Bristol City striker Paul Agostino grabbed a lifeline for the Lions with a precious late goal in Yorkshire, after the home side had been reduced to nine men with both Olivier Dacourt and Erik Bakke seeing red.

Leeds manager David O’Leary felt that the luck of the Irish had deserted him.

“I thought all the sendings off were wrong,” he said. “I thought they were a joke, unbelievable.”

As a result Leeds were reduced to a skeleton squad, with O’Leary bemoaning his fate ahead of the big-money game in Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

“I don’t mean this as a joke, but I don’t know what side I can field for that game,” O’Leary complained.

“I’m not very confident about going through. I’m not being defeatist, I’m just being realistic, it’s no way to be going into the biggest game this club has had without nine players.”

As the hotly anticipated second-leg clash loomed, the Lions’ (now deceased) President Karl-Heinz Wildmoser viewed it as his club’s “most important game in three decades”.

Yours truly was amongst the 56,000 crowd that turned up on a balmy summer night in the historic stadium, built for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Around 2500 travelling supporters were in fine voice after the customary pre-match lubrication with the local Munich product.

I can vividly recall the fiery Lorant prowling his technical area – a thick mop of grey hair, gesticulating wildly through a haze of cigarette smoke, trying to motivate his charges.

The standout 1860 player was undoubtedly the diminutive German midfielder Thomas ‘Icke’ Hässler, a 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 winner.

Hässler, 34 at the time, was coming to the end of an illustrious career but still ran the show in the middle of the park as the Lions pressed for a vital goal.

Current 1860 player Daniel Bierofka was a mere 21-year-old youngster making his way in the game on this heady night in Munich, whilst two-time Bundesliga top scorer Martin Max provided the goal threat in a lively Lions side.

Hässler almost broke the deadlock in the final seconds of the first half with a rasping free-kick from the edge of the box. Nigel Martyn was beaten all ends up in the Leeds goal, but the ball smacked against the woodwork to safety.

The game was decided immediately after the interval. Martyn punted long, aiming for the imposing figure of Leeds striker Mark Viduka, signed that summer from Celtic. The Aussie Viduka caused havoc in the box against 1860 Captain Marco Kurz, who later went on to manage the club. The loose ball fell nicely to Alan Smith, a Leeds-born striker, who was just 19 at the time. Smith dispatched with aplomb to seal a 3-1 aggregate win over the Lions, who had to make do with UEFA Cup football.

Man of the match was undoubtedly English international goalkeeper Martyn. The Cornishman made a string of fine saves to deny the hosts and keep the makeshift Leeds side ahead.

Ironically, the Lions’ “noisy neighbours” Bayern Munich later lifted the trophy, beating Valencia 5–4 on penalties after a 1–1 draw after extra time. The Spanish side had overcome a full-strength Leeds side in the semi-finals.

This was as good as it got for Leeds as living the dream proved unsustainable. Leeds slipped into administration in 2007, dropping all the way to the third tier of English football, whilst 1860 have managed only mid-table mediocrity in the German second
division since 2004.

Competition: Champions League, 3rd Qualifying Round, Second Leg

Score: TSV 1860 Munich 0 Leeds United 1 (Alan Smith)

1860 Munich: Hoffmann, Passlack (Winkler 63′), Puerk, Max, Hässler, Cerny, Mykland,
Stranzl, Borimirov (Beierle 78′), Agostino, Bierofka (Tyce 73′)

Unused subs: Greilich, Riedl, Pfudere, Jentsch (gk)

Leeds United: Martyn, Kelly, Harte, Radebe, Woodgate, Viduka, Bowyer, Smith, Mills,
Jones (G. Evans 73′), Duberry

Unused subs: Bridges, Huckerby, McMaster, Molenaar, Hackworth, Robinson (gk)

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Munich, Germany

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