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Spurs European Glory

Tottenham 5, Athletico Madrid 1

Rotterdam, 15 May 1963

In 15 May 1963 Spurs became the first British side to win a European trophy when they lifted the Cup Winners’ Cup.  They put out Rangers, Slovan Bratislava and OFK Belgrade en route to the final, where they faced holders Athletico Madrid. 

Spurs, who achieved the elusive League and Cup double in 1961, and then retained the cup the following year, had just missed out on English honours in 1963.  Dave MacKay, their influential half-back player was injured.   The pitch at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam was rather threadbare of grass.  Captain Danny Blanchflower was philosophical about the pitch ‘There is nothing much wrong with it.  It will do’. 

A large contingent of Tottenham supporters who had made their way to Rotterdam were soon singing “Glory, Glory Halleluja”, as Greaves scored the first goal in the 17th minute.  White made it 2-0 after 34 minutes.     

Madrid captain Collar scored from the penalty spot a minute after half-time to reduce the arrears and Spurs went through their most hectic period. Ron Henry, Spurs left-back, made no bones about admitting that he fisted the ball out when the penalty was awarded.  “Yes,” he later told a reporter ‘I did and I meant it’.  A free kick by Mendoza went just outside when an equaliser would have put Athletico in a dominating position. 

Financially the match meant more to the Spaniards than the Londoners.  The later were on a bonus of £50 if they brought home the trophy: the Spanish club were said to be on  something over £400 a man if they won.

But Spurs came back again and the key moment came in the 69th minute when Terry Dyson floated a cross into the box and it swirled over keeper Madinabeytia into the net.  Greaves hammered in the fourth goal in the 79th minute when he ran on to a lovely cross from man of the match Dyson, and the little left winger got the fifth himself four minutes before the end.  He weaved in from the left and shot hard from the edge of the penalty area to score a great solo goal. 

Danny Blanchflower, said that ‘This was our greatest triumph. It was a wonderful game.  The boys played magnificently.  Of course, we were worried when Athletico drew up to 2-1, but who isn’t worried when the score is like that?  I am sure most people will agree we were the better side.  The standard was always good and it was a most enjoyable match’.