FC Barcelona pulled out all the stops this Sunday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the European Cup Winners’ Cup victory, beating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-3 in a dramatic final in Basel, Switzerland on 16 May 1979 and regarded as the first ever mass-mobilisation of Barça supporters to watch a game in a foreign country.
The series of events to honour the occasion began with a gala lunch in the Auditori 1899 attended by Josep Maria Bartomeu and members of the board both now and from four decades ago, together with players from that historic team and representatives of the veterans group called the Agrupació Barça Jugadors.
Such hallowed names as Artola, Rexach, De la Cruz, Zuviría, Tente Sánchez, Francisco ‘Paco’ Martínez, Lobo Carrasco, Quique Álvarez, Pere Valentí Mora, Tarrés, Ramos, Fortes, Manolo Martínez, Asensi, Migueli, Albaladejo, Esteban, Palomares and Àngel Mur were on a very dignified guest list indeed
After eating, everyone headed onto the Camp Nou field as part of the build-up to the game with Getafe, where they paraded the trophy and received heartfelt applause from the fans – and then headed up to the directors’ box to enjoy the 2-0 win
Next Thursday marks the exact date of the anniversary, and at 10.00pm CET, Barça TV will be celebrating the occasion with a documentary titled ‘Basilea: una fotografia per a la història’ that examines why that game was so important to the club and in particular its supporters, with comments from the players and some of the people who made up the extraordinary crowd of 30,000 who made the journey across France to attend the game.
It wasn’t Barça’s first ever continental title. The club had won the old Fairs Cup three times (1958, 1969 and 1966), but there was something special about 1979, and most especially Hans Krankl’s goal that as good as secured the title in extra time. It heralded in the Barça of the modern era, and buried the demons of defeat to Slovan Bratislava in the final of the same competition ten years previously, and the tragic loss in another Swiss city, Berne, to Benfica in the European Cup Final of 1961.
For FC Barcelona, 1979 was just the start of it. Three more Cup Winners’ Cups would follow (1982, 1989 and 1997) and even more importantly, five Champions Leagues (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015).