The Ipswich Town legend remembers when the competition used to mean something, and not was just for the “losers of the Champions League.”
As Chelsea lifted the UEFA Europa League trophy by beating Arsenal 4-1 on Wednesday, former Ipswich Town footballer Mike Bacon remembers when his side lifted a European trophy.
“Watching the Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal brought back memories of Ipswich own’s UEFA Cup final victory in 1981,” he wrote in The Sudbury Mercury.
“Yes, for any young people reading this, before the Europa League was created into an all-singing, all-dancing, multi-league format with failed Champions League teams joining halfway through and crap final venues, it was called the UEFA Cup.”
“And a very respectable and seriously tough competition too,” he added.
“Firstly get into and then secondly to win, it was too, with the final played over two-legged clashes, allowing both sets of fans to watch their teams at home, rather than 150,000 miles away in hotbeds of football like Azerbaijan!”
He added: “I’m not suggesting it is easy to win, but it’s a damn sight easier to get into.”
“Today you can almost finish mid-table in some leagues around Europe and enter the Europa League at the first or second qualifying rounds sometime in July!”
“As I said, cock up the Champions League and still you may get a ‘get out of jail free’ card to head into the Europa League,” he continued saying.
“You can lose one, even two ‘group’ games and still come up smelling of roses.”
He concluded: “When Ipswich Town won it, the UEFA Cup was a tough business. Few, if any second chances.”
“Town qualified for the competition that season after finishing third in the 1979/80 campaign. Liverpool won the league so consequently went in the European Cup, while Manchester United were runners-up and also went into the UEFA Cup with Town.”
🔊 “I’ll never forget the look on Willian’s face. He just looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing here!’”
This is the Rob Green story, the hero of Baku… 💚 pic.twitter.com/2bKffuIKDo
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 31, 2019