As a departure from the usual titanic clashes in Champions League finals, the European Cup final of 1991 makes for fascinating reading in the history books. You may well ask, “Who the hell are Crvena Zvezda?” Well, You may know them better as Red Star Belgrade – who, to this day are the only Serbian or Yugoslavian team to win UEFA’s elite club competition.
Having dominated on and off in their native Yugoslavia, Red Star 1st made their mark on the European stage by surprising everyone to reach the 1979 UEFA Cup final, which was followed by two European Cup quarter finals.
Their philosophy remained the same over the years – recruit young, attack-minded players with pacy strikers as the hallmark of their sides. Defence, it’s fair to say, was an afterthought. T
hat all changed in 1988 when defensive organisation arrived in the form of Miodrag Belodedici; a Romanian sweeper who had recently won the European Cup with Steaua Bucharest. Due to paperwork irregularities and accusations of treason, he was unable to feature for his new side during his first season but when Ljupko Petrovic took over in 1990, he built a solid defense around Belodedici.
However, it was 2 steps forward and one step back for Red Star as club Captain Dragan Stojkovic, became frustrated with a lack of European success and left for Marseille. True to his wish, he helped Marseille to their first European Cup final in Bari but, as fate would have, it would be played against the boyhood club he had left several months earlier.
That final of 1991 certainly wasn’t a classic in a football sense but few can challenge it as a fantastic underdog story interwoven with quirky personal stories on and off the field. Find out more in this week’s Football From The Vaults…