Five centre-backs who stood out in European Cup and Champions League finals
The great Real Madrid teams who dominated the European Cup in the 1950s are remembered mostly for their great creators and scorers, but they also had talent at the back, though it was surprising to everybody when the teak-tough Marquitos popped up with a rare goal in the inaugural final against Reims.
In the 1974 European Cup final, Atletico Madrid were a minute away from an extra-time win when Bayern Munich equalised via an unlikely source. Schwarzenbeck was normally the bruiser to Franz Beckenbauer’s elegant cruiser in their centre-back pairing. He struck his long-range goal with rare precision. Bayern then won the replay.
Liverpool’s European Cup domination in the late 1970s was built on craft. Their hardest man? Smith, a Merseysider so uncompromising it was said of him “he wasn’t born, he was quarried”. In the 1977 final against Borussia Monchengladbach, he headed in his side’s second goal in a 3-1 triumph.
Montero straddled two great traditions of stern, forthright defending: the Uruguayan way, and that of Serie A in the 1990s. He was the heart of Juventus’ back line when they were consistently the toughest opposition in Europe. He contested three Uefa Champions League finals, but was never on the winning side.
The model for the modern defender, first as an athletic left-back, and then, in his later years, as a centre-back of uncanny anticipation and poise. A month shy of his 37th birthday, in Istanbul, at the outset of a dramatic night against Liverpool, he volleyed in the fastest goal in a European Cup final, after only 51 seconds.
Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM