A different format and another name
Today we all know that the Champions League is the ultimate trophy for any European club (except for Liverpool). Founded 64 years ago, its original name was European Champion Clubs’ Cup or more simply, the European Cup. Its current name, Champions League dates from 1992.
So, in 1986 we are talking about the European Cup with a format that comprised a knock-out only phase. Winning four two leg matches and you got a ticket for the final.
Born in 1989, I wasn’t there for the final that took place in Sevilla on May 7, 1986. But I’ve seen the penalty shoot-out often during my childhood as this was the best performance of a Romanian football club.
My parents told me that the end of the 1980s were harsh times. Nicolae Ceausescu, the dictator that came into office in 1965 turned Romania from a rural nation into extensive industrialization. But this came into effect with severe oppression and with high economic costs. Especially since the dictator paid all the country debts as fast as possible.
Many products faced shortages. For example, just for a bottle of milk, you had to queue many hours early in the morning. Electricity was also cut off often, usually after 10 PM. In those horrible times, football appeased people from the miserable life.
A boring match
Barcelona was the home team. Only 1.000 out of the 70.000 fans present on the stadium were supporting Steaua Bucharest. Barcelona dominated the match, but the robust Romanian defense stopped every attack. So, the game ended after 120 minutes and the real drill was about to start.
Majearu executed the first penalty for Steaua Bucuresti. He shot straight onto Barca’s keeper, Urruti. Barcelona’s captain, Jose Alexanko, could equalize, but an inspired Duckadam dived to his right corner. Nil-nil after first round.
Second round. Steaua missed again as Bölöni’s tried the same corner as Barcelona’s captain. Time for Pedraza to try his luck, but Duckadam dived on the same corner and saved another penalty. Still 0-0 after two rounds.
Marius Lacatus stepped in for the next round and smashed the underside of the crossbar. The ball was in, first goal of the final. Pichi Alonso followed for Barcelona. He tried the same corner as his teammates. Duckadam dived for the third consecutive time on the right corner and knocked the ball out of the goal area.Fourth round. Balint also aimed for the right corner with a less powerful ground shot, but Urruti dived on the opposite side. 2-0 for Steaua, and high pressure for Barcelona. Marcos walked to the white spot and aimed at the left corner with a poor shot.
Helmuth Duckadam, the hero of Seville
Lead by a magical inspiration, Duckadam changed the corner for the first time, dived onto his left and through the ball out of the danger area.
The first goalkeeper to save four penalties in the competition final brought the title in Romania. Steaua became the champion of the European Cup and Duckadam became known as “The Hero of Sevilla”.
Over 30.000 fans took the celebration to the Bucharest streets.
Steaua Bucuresti was the winner of the Champions League 1986 final.