Leeds United Nostalgia: The night Leeds United were ‘robbed’ of European Cup glory

Leeds United fans at the 1975 European Cup final.
Leeds United fans at the 1975 European Cup final.
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LEEDS United are busy seeking a new head coach this weekend after being left dismayed following Thursday’s resignation of head coach Garry Monk.

Outrage and injustice were the emotions 42 years ago with the Whites appearing in their only European Cup final when they were ‘robbed’ 2-0 by Bayern Munich.

Allan Clarke attempts to break through after Franz Beckenbauer was adjudged not to have handled in the area.

Allan Clarke attempts to break through after Franz Beckenbauer was adjudged not to have handled in the area.

Defending English champions Leeds were adapting to life under manager Jimmy Armfield who had taken over following the infamously short-lived 44-day reign of Brian Clough.

Clough had been appointed in July after the 13-year reign of Don Revie ended with United again crowned champions of England for the second time in their history.

But despite a miserable start to the season under Clough, United had a first European Cup campaign to look forward to and navigated their way through ties against FC Zurich, Ujpest Dozsa, Anderlecht and Barcelona to book a date with reigning European Cup champions Bayern at the Parc des Princes in Paris on May 28, 1975.

It would prove United’s last appearance in a major cup final until the League Cup showdown of 1996 against Aston Villa, with the final against Bayern proving one that somehow got away – and one that had serious repercussions.

Billy Bremner and Franz Beckenbauer shake hands before the game.

Billy Bremner and Franz Beckenbauer shake hands before the game.

In front of a crowd of 48,374, United dominated but were denied what looked a blatant penalty when Bayern captain Franz Beckenbauer handled. The incident was ignored by referee Michel Kitabdjian and Billy Bremner later saw a close-range effort saved by Sepp Maier.

Leeds then finally looked to have taken a 62nd-minute lead through a stunning volley from Peter Lorimer.

But, amid angry scenes, Bremner was ruled offside and Bayern netted the game’s opening goal nine minutes later through Franz Roth, whose low effort squirmed inside the left-hand post.

Gerd Muller then doubled Bayern’s advantage 10 minutes later from close range and that proved more than enough to record a controversial victory.

Eddie Gray had been brought on as a late second-half substitute a minute before Bayern netted their second but even Gray could not prevent a crushing defeat.

And worse was to follow.

After riots during the game, UEFA banned Leeds from European competition for four years – reduced to two on appeal.

The club finally returned to Europe in 1979 after finishing fifth the previous year, but three years later the Whites were relegated to Division Two.

And even today, the pain of the injustice of the 1975 European Cup final still hurts.

“I always felt we were robbed,” Armfield told the YEP in 2008.

“What should have been a great night wasn’t.”

Allan Clarke told the YEP two years ago: “That trophy was the pinnacle of club football.

“Representing your country was the biggest honour for a player but at club level, you wanted the European Cup.

“Obviously I’m aggrieved about what went on.

“We wanted the trophy and we wanted the medal.

“We were all of us winners.

“To lift the European Cup back then you had to win your league first. There was none of this finish-fourth-and-qualify nonsense.

“There was no room for error in the early stages either.

“From round one if you lost over two legs you were out. Good Night Vienna.

“But that final against Bayern Munich must go down as the most one-sided in the history of the European Cup.

“How a team who played like we did could end up as the losing side I’ll never know. Well, I do know. We were cheated out of it.

“In my mind we were champions of Europe that night. I love that our fans sing about us being champions of Europe because it reminds everyone of what really went on and how shocking that final was.”


Bayern Munich 2 (Roth 71, Muller 81)

Leeds United 0

Wednesday, May 28, 1975 European Cup final

Bayern: Maier, Andersson (S Weiss 4), Dumberger, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer (c), Roth, Torstensson, Zobel, Muller, Hoeness (Wunder 42), Kapellmann. Subs not used: Rummenigge, G Weiss, Robl.

Leeds United: Stewart, Reaney, F Gray, Bremner (c), Madeley, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jordan, Giles, Yorath (Gray 80). Subs not used: Letheren, Cherry, Hampton, McKenzie.

Referee: Michel Kitabdjian (France).

Attendance: 48,374.