Hampden Park Stadium, Glasgow, May 18, 1960: a place and a date in the history of European football and of Real Madrid, who won the final of the highest continental tournament with a spectacular 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Both teams cross paths again with the objective of a title, this Wednesday in Helsinki in the European Super Cup, but what did that mythical final of the European Cup – current Champions League – really mean 62 years ago?
“That game definitively internationalized Real Madrid and that has to be put in the context of the time. Everything is different now, in the digital age, but at that time that final was very important,” Ángel Bahamonde says in an interview with AFP. , emeritus professor of Contemporary History at the Carlos III University of Madrid and author of the book “El Real Madrid en la historia de España”.
“Real Madrid was a Spanish team until the 1950s, that’s when it became a European team and then it would become a world team. Two important events are coinciding, the final 7-3 to Eintracht and also that year the 5-1 against Peñarol de Montevideo, a great team at the time, in the first Intercontinental Cup. Those two games were very important for the internationalization of the club”, he points out.
Never has a final of the main European tournament had so many goals or a result as striking as that 7-3. The feat of Alfredo Di Stéfano, with three, and Ferenc Puskas, with four, generated a great impact and crowned in the best way a cycle of five consecutive European Cups won by Real Madrid, since the opening edition of 1956.
“Real Madrid conquered Great Britain, it conquered France, as can be seen in the newspaper L’Équipe at the time. There are beginning to be people who declare themselves Real Madrid fans in different countries,” he assesses.
“From a political point of view, Real Madrid undoubtedly also initiated the opening of Spain towards Eastern Europe, it could easily enter those countries of the Soviet orbit. The Francoist authorities realized the importance of this opening towards Eastern Europe. A few years later the first agreements would be reached between Spain and the Soviet Union”, underlines Bahamonde.
In that context, he also sees that Real Madrid as the driver of “a huge increase in collective self-esteem” in the midst of a dictatorship.
– A lasting footprint –
“The 7-3 helped a lot. Let’s not forget that it was one of the first fully televised finals, which was seen in many countries. That makes it even more impressive. Today we talk about social networks and the digital world as an element of globalization, in At that time it was television. Madrid also took advantage of that. Surely if the 7-3 had not already been in the television era, it would have had less of an imprint than it did,” Bahamonde estimates.
The lasting mark in time of the 7-3 final and the “Madrid of the five European Cups” was kept from generation to generation.
“Today almost nobody remembers that Real Madrid won the European Cup against Liverpool two months ago. Time has accelerated, now there is no yesterday, it is a permanent today. The 7-3 then was constantly remembered” , considers the professor and historian.
She believes that it contributed that the sports newspapers of the time were “loaded with literature and designed to last”.
“Sports chronicles were cut out and pasted into an album, and read a year later. Today all of that is impossible, current affairs eat us up,” he laments.
In a club that has won fourteen European championship titles, is the 7-3 final the best of the tournament or at least of those won by Real Madrid?
“You have to put that in its historical context. It was another type of football, with other canons. For the time, it was the best. Overall, that is already very nuanced. For me the best is Real’s 4-1 Madrid to Juventus in 2017”, considers Bahamonde.