Arguably the greatest match of all time, it’s time to wind the clock back 51 years to the 1960 European Cup Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Hampden had never seen a match like it. Sure the famous old Scottish ground has witnessed moments of sheer genius like Zidane’s volley in the 2002 Champions League Final and even the historical international debut of a certain Maradona. But as far as 90 minutes go, the Scottish national stadium will never again see a match like the 1960 European Cup Final.
The match pitted Spain’s Real Madrid, a side of formidable class, against the German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt. Run your eyes down the list of players who graced the Hampden turf that day and you’ll see no shortage of ‘Hall of Famers’. The Madrid XI featured the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano and the greatest Hungarian player of all time, Ferenc Puskas. Frankfurt didn’t look too shabby either, and far removed from the top sides we see today, the first 11 didn’t feature a player from outside of Germany.
But of course, we are talking about a legendary match played back when football was football. The game has indeed changed for the better nowadays, but watching back you can help but admire the camaraderie of ‘60s football. The major feature of the match was the mind-boggling attendance for the match- 127,000- and the fact that the most expensive ticket was priced at 50 shillings (around ￡2.50 today).
Backpasses were still legal, foul throws were rife and unlike today’s big matches, the 1960 European Cup Final sprang into life as soon as the first whistle was blown.
Madrid’s style, short and technical, drew gasps from the crowd in the early exchanges, with their skill and flair immediately implementing sheer class amongst their ranks. Although the competitiveness of the occasion never faded, it was at times like watching a friendly, with Madrid’s players unafraid to exhibit their neat turns and touches.
Frankfurt maybe had the upper hand in the opening exchanges with the right-winger Richard Kress powering down the wing and 18mins through the first half he provided the first goal of this epic tussle. Unfortunately for the Germans, this woke the worldly Madrid squad. The irrepressible Di Stefano pushed Madrid forward and scored twice in quick succession to put the favourites into the lead. This was possibly the world’s best ever club side in full swing.
It would be incorrect to suggest Madrid dominated from start to finish as Frankfurt at 0-0, 1-0 and 1-2 still looked supremely confident that their strong, powerful and direct style would end Real’s four-year European Cup dominance. But Puskas’ goal, just moment from half time, put a wedge between the two sides.
The second half saw the floodgates open when Puskas converted a penalty and two others to make it 6-1 to Madrid. Erwin Stein pulled one back for Frankfurt as Madrid began to relax, but that only sprang Di Stefano back into life, who nicked his hat-trick before Stein rounded off the incredible score of 7-3.
Imagine that; a European Cup Final ending 7-3. Moreover, imagine a European Final being played to the highest standard with some of the best players in the world thrashing it out in front of a record breaking crowd, who got to watch one of the greatest games of football for a more than reasonable price. Will it ever happen again? The answer: no. Madrid and Frankfurt played a European Final that deserved the hype that surrounds the modern day finals. The fact of the matter is the style of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s is gone and never to return. But at least it gave us this match to remember it by.