On the night of April 29th back in 1970, Manchester City lifted their one and only European title, beating Polish team Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in the European Cup Winners Cup final. Goals on the night came from Francis Lee and Neil Young, and those who remember the night will do so with fondness because they have not tasted European success since. That has eluded the club, and even with their strength in the Premier League in recent seasons, City have been unable to take a real grip on the European footballing scene.
One strange fact about the game is that every single player who went onto the field that night for Manchester City was English, and the same was true about their opponents, in that they were all Polish. Imagine seeing that from one team at any point in the Champions League in the modern era, let alone from two teams and in the final of the competition. That shows how much football has changed, but for City fans, it also highlights just how long ago their last European success was – that’s something they are desperate to change.
“The current home of Manchester City, Etihad Stadium” by Sarmad Yaseen (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The final was played in front of a crowd of just 7968 and was held in Vienna, Austria, and was recently named as one of the five best Manchester City European nights in their history. City took an early lead through Young, before a penalty from Francis Lee doubled their lead before half time. With just over 20 minutes to go in the game, the Polish side hit back but City held on to record a famous victory and lift Europe’s top club trophy for the first and only time in their history.
Older fans of the club are ready to see their team succeed in Europe once again, while younger fans are becoming a little tired of their team failing to go the distance in the Champions League. City won the Premier League last season, and the latest Premier League betting has them 4/11 favourites to win the title again this season. However, there are fans who are no longer interested in just winning the Premier League, it is on the European stage where City must win to move to the next level.
The players that Manchester City have at the club now are more than capable of taking City to European glory once again, and the pressure is now on to bring that to this club. Back in 1970, City relied on Francis Lee and Neil Young to score their goals, while the youngsters nowadays are dreaming of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus doing exactly the same thing.
The foundations of Manchester City in 1970 were built by English players and while that is no longer the case now, those at the club certainly understand and respect the history this team has. Hopes at the club hinge on the skill of an Argentinian and a Brazilian, amongst others, which is a far cry from what we saw back in 1970, and a timely reminder of just how long ago it was that City last lifted a European trophy.