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Repeat Winners of the European Cup Winners’ Cup

Lionel Messi Playing For Barcelona

Younger football fans may have not even heard of the European Cup Winners’ Cup (ECWC), whilst some may know the name but not be particularly familiar with it. However, for many years this competition was one of three main UEFA-sanctioned tournaments, along with, originally, the European Cup (now the Champions League) and UEFA Cup (effectively this merged with the ECWC to become the Europa League).

Entrance to the Cup Winners’ Cup was granted to the side that won the main domestic cup from each European nation, so for example the FA Cup in England. When a team won the league and cup double, they would go into the European Cup and the losing finalist would earn entry into the Cup Winners’ Cup.

Over the years it has been won by most of the continent’s biggest and best teams and in its day was a very prestigious trophy, before European football became so Champions League-centric. However, just before the dawn of the new millennium, the Cup Winners’ Cup was abolished, with Lazio the last winners in 1999, thus holding the trophy in perpetuity. So, with no new winners going to be “minted”, which club is the most successful in this defunct competition?

Who Has Won the European Cup Winners’ Cup the Most?

A total of 32 different clubs have won this competition, which was first awarded in 1961 to another Italian side, Fiorentina. However, not many have won it more than once, so let’s take a look at the elite band of clubs with two or more ECWCs to their name.

Four Clubs Have Won it Twice

Four different sides have lifted this trophy aloft on two occasions and if you can name them you almost certainly need to get out of the house a little more. For everyone else, those four are:

  • Anderlecht – the Belgian side won in 1976 and 1978 and also lost the final in 1977 and 1990, with only one club appearing in more finals.
  • Milan – Milan also have two wins, those coming in 1968 and 1973, whilst they were beaten finalists in 1974.
  • Chelsea – one of two clubs with multiple wins that boast a 100% record in the final, the Blues won in 1971 and 1998.
  • Dynamo Kyiv – the Ukrainian club won this trophy in 1975 and 1986 when competing under the flag of the USSR.

Barcelona Have Won More Than Any Other Side

Barcelona Flag

Catalan giants may trail their fierce rivals when it comes to the biggest prize of all, the Champions League, but no side can match their four wins in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. And indeed, no other club can better the two wins of the four mentioned above, meaning Barca are, and will forever be, well out in front in terms of wins in the ECWC.

No side has won as many finals, appeared in as many finals, or lost more, Barca having missed out in the decider twice, in 1969 and 1991. Those defeats came against Solvan Bratislava and Manchester United respectively, but enough about the times they lost, let’s look at their fabulous four wins.

1979 Brings First Barca Win

Ipswich Town were among the entrants in the 1978/79 season, managed by Bobby Robson at the time. As were Wrexham, back when Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney were still just toddlers! As for Barcelona, they breezed through the first round against Shakhtar Donetsk, in large part due to a 3-0 home win in the first leg.

The second round was much tougher, with the Spanish side needing penalties against Belgians Anderlecht after a remarkable tie where both sides won their home games 3-0. In the next round, the quarters, Robson’s Ipswich would come up against Barca, a team he would go on to manage. It was a tight contest but the football giants scraped through on the now-defunct away-goals rule after it ended 2-2.

The semis were more straightforward, Barca facing another Belgian side, K.S.K. Beveren (Anderlecht had won the ECWC in 1978). The four-time champions won both ties 1-0 to set up a final with Germans Fortune Dusseldorf. The final was in Basel and was a real thriller but Barca came out on top 4-3 after extra time (2-2 after 90 minutes).

Barca Back for More in 1982

Just three years later the Catalan outfit tasted more European success, beating another Belgian side, this time Standard Liege, in the final. They came from behind to win 2-1, having beaten Spurs by the same score (but over two legs in the semis). The quarters had been simpler as they won the first leg 3-0 away from home against Lokomotive Leipzig, progressing 4-2 in the end. Prior to that they had got the better of Dukla Prague (4-1) and Bulgarians Botev Plodiv (4-2) in what was a fairly straightforward run to the latter stages of the competition.

1989: Barca’s Hat-Trick of Titles Secured

Barcelona eased into the second round with a 7-0 aggregate win over Icelandic minnows Fram, with Gary Lineker among the scorers. Things were far trickier next as they needed penalties to beat Polish side Lech Poznan after both games finished 1-1. The quarter final was also tense and Lineker scored the only goal of the tie as Barca edged past Danes AGF.

The semi was a thriller though, with goals aplenty, Lineker and co winning 6-3 on aggregate against CSKA Sofia. Hristo Stoichkov scored all three for the Bulgarians, impressing Barca so much they signed him a year later. In the final they met Italians Sampdoria in Bern, English ref George Courtney in charge of the game. The Catalans won 2-0 and in some regards, this started their era of glory that lasted for much of the 1990s.

Robson, Ronaldo and Pep Land Title Four

When Barca claimed their fourth and final European Cup Winners’ Cup, Bobby Robson was their manager and Brazilian Ronaldo, or R9, was their star striker. Pep Guardiola was their metronome in midfield, with Luis Enrique, Luis Figo and Stoichkov other big names featuring (though the Bulgarian began on the bench).

Robson’s charges beat PSG 1-0 in the final, in Rotterdam, thanks to a penalty from Ronaldo. The Parisians had beaten Liverpool in the semis (Robbie Fowler was the tournament’s top scorer), whilst Barca saw off Fiorentina 3-1 on aggregate.

Indeed, the Catalans won all games prior to the final by a two-goal margin. They got past Cypriots AEK Larnaca 2-0 in round one, Red Star Belgrade were beaten 4-2 in the next phase, whilst Barca saw off Swedes AIK by that same score in the quarters.