The story of how Leeds United toppled Juventus at the third attempt to become 1971 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup champions

Italian giants Juventus were firmly in the spotlight this week.

Sunday, 5th September 2021, 6:00 am
Leeds United lift the 1971 Fairs Cup. Pic: Press Association

Forty years ago, Leeds United were beating them - in the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

But success against the Italian giants was anything but straightforward and Leeds needed to encounter three games against the Bianconeri before getting their hands on the trophy for a second time, sealing their fifth major honour.

Juventus were firmly in the news this week as Cristiano Ronaldo left the club en route to Old Trafford for a second spell at Manchester United.

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But 40 years ago, the Red Devils only finished eighth in the 1969-70 Division One campaign in which Revie’s 1969 league champions finished as runners-up behind Harry Catterick’s Everton side.

That meant yet another Fairs Cup assault the following season and Leeds went all the way by repeating their 1968 triumph in what was their fifth consecutive season of competing in what became the UEFA Cup the following year.

United’s glorious 1970-71 Fairs Cup run began against Norwegian outfit Sarpsborg in the first round. A Peter Lorimer strike gave Leeds a 1-0 victory in the first leg in Norway and Lorimer was also in target in addition to braces from Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner in a 5-0 romp in the second leg at Elland Road.

Dynamo Dresden, then of East Germany, were next and a Lorimer penalty sealed a 1-0 win in the first leg in West Yorkshire.

Mick Jones then bagged a crucial goal in the reverse fixture in Dresden as Leeds progressed on away goals despite a 2-1 defeat.

Sparta Prague were next in the last 16 and the Czech outfit were walloped 9-2 on aggregate, firstly after a 6-0 hammering at Elland Road via a brace from Eddie Gray plus strikes from Clarke, Bremner, Charlton and an own goal. Gray, Clarke and Rod Belfitt all netted in a 3-2 triumph in the second leg in Prague. United’s quarter final proved more difficult as Revie’s side eventually overcame Portuguese outfit Vitória Setúbal 3-2 on aggregate.

A Johnny Giles penalty after a Lorimer strike sealed a 2-1 win at Eland Road and Lorimer was also on target in a 1-1 draw in Portugal.

Two English giants then locked horns in the semis as Leeds faced Bill Shankly’s Liverpool and Bremner’s goal in the first leg at Elland Road proved the difference, sealing a 1-0 win and progression to the final after a goalless draw at Anfield.

A Juventus side who had finished runners-up in the previous season’s Serie A then awaited in a two-legged final. At the time, Cagliari were the defending Italian league champions but Juventus would go on to win five of the next seven Serie A titles.

But a Leeds team who finished runners-up to Bertie Mee’s Arsenal in the 1971 league title race put Juve to the sword, eventually, after two and a half games.

The first leg, on May 26, proved the game that never was as the fixture in Turin was abandoned after 51 minutes to a waterlogged pitch with the score 0-0. But the fixture still proved damaging to Leeds as Gray aggravated a shoulder injury.

Gray was forced to miss the second attempt to get the game played in Turin two days later. But Gray’s replacement Mick Bates netted together with Paul Madeley as United took a 2-2 draw to take back to Elland Road, Roberto Bettega and Fabio Capello on target for the hosts.

The tie remained delicately poised but United sealed a second Fairs Cup after a 1-1 draw in Leeds as Clarke gave the Whites a 12th-minute lead when firing home a low shot from just inside the box. Juventus now needed to score twice and the Italians hit back just eight minutes later as Pietro Anastasi was played in and slotted a neat finish past Gary Sprake.

But Juventus were unable to net a second which meant Leeds were crowned 1971 Fairs Cup champions on away goals in the competition’s final year.