Real Madrid 7 vs Eintracht Frankfurt 3
If you Google Search “Greatest European Cup Final”, one defining result appears above all others (well two, but Liverpool vs AC Milan 2005, was in Istanbul so pipe down).
The game we are referring to, is of course, Real Madrid vs Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden Park. Many of whom, who attended the match, paid testimony at witnessing the greatest game of football ever played.
With Real Madrid chasing their fifth consecutive European Cup (a record which still stands to this day) and Eintracht their first, the stage was set for a spectacular game of football.
Before the game could even start, it was in jeopardy. In the 1954 World Cup Final, Real Madrid’s Ferenc Puskas whilst playing for the Hungary national team accused the West Germans of being drug cheats, following their shock World Cup triumph. (Syringes were actually found in the West Germany dressing room)
The German FA refused to allow any of their teams to compete against a team that included Puskas after his slanderous outburst. Puskas was forced to quickly pen a written apology, allowing the game to commence.
Real went into the final strong favourites, following their four successive European Cup wins. Eintracht, however, were no pushovers and believed that they could claim the trophy. The entire Frankfurt team were also German born, meaning a sense of national pride, was at stake, stemming from the 1954 accusations.
The 132, 000+ in attendance would remember the game for the rest of their lives thanks to the efforts of two people, Alfredo De Stefano and the scourge of German football Ferenc Puskas. De Stefano scoring a hat trick whilst Puskas scored an unbelievable four goals.
(There have only ever been three players to score a hat trick in a European Cup final, Real hold the record for two of them. Pierino Prati of AC Milan claiming the other hat trick.)
The match, pulsated from end to end. Both teams allowing the other time on the ball to play, it was truly a game for the purists.
The game reverberated as an alarm for the British media, signalling to them the strength of the competition across the continent, while also highlighting their attractive brand of football. (Frankfurt had actually defeated Scottish champions Rangers 12-4 over two legs in the semi final.)
The game however, was anything, but one sided, and Frankfurt actually opened the scoring in the first half. The German team just simply couldn’t get to grips with De Stefano or Puskas, whom from the first minute ripped Eintracht apart. Puskas and De Stefano were unplayable, with many saying Puskas was indefatigable.
Although he never spoke of his written apology. Puskas certainly played the final like a man possessed, almost as if he felt a grievance against the German team. He even took it upon himself to score with a header. (Modern day comparison, the few and far times, Christiano Ronaldo scores with his head.)
It seemed like every time Eintracht attempted to drag themselves back into the match, De Stefano and Puskas would take it upon themselves to strike another killer blow.
The score would eventually finish 7-3, but European football would never be the same thanks to the free flowing nature of the match.
British teams like Celtic and Man Utd, would later be inspired by the manner in which the two teams played football. Less than a decade later both teams would have claimed European football’s greatest trophy (and been commended on the style in which they played.)
Frankfurt could take solace in the defiance they put up against Real Madrid, and their refusal to change their charismatic style of football. Especially considering that the Real Madrid of that era were and are probably still considered, the greatest club team ever to play the game of football.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who was in the Hampden crowd watching the final, best described Real Madrid legend De Stefano when he said, “obviously there is a list of great ones like Cruyff, Maradona, Pele and of course Puskas but De Stefano, I thought he was one of the greatest in my mind.
He had a fantastic balance and poise, if you look at one of the goals he scored against Eintracht Frankfurt, it was unbelievable.
The capacity crowd of 132, 000, captivated by the De Stefano and Puskas master-class, would emphatically agree.