East Germany international forward JUERGEN SPARWASSER (far left), the Olympic bronze medalist from the 1972 Summer Games at Munich trailed here by FC Magdeburg attacking partner DETLEF RAUGUST, is on the ball and about to be confronted by the AC Milan pair of defender ENRICO LANZI and Italy’s would-be two-time World Cup midfielder ROMEO BENETTI (far right) during the 1974 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final staged at the virtually empty Feyenoord Stadion in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.
Everyone was, in fact, so sure that Italian Serie A giant AC MILAN would, indeed, successfully defend the same title it had won the season before and triumph over East German Oberliga club FC MAGDEBURG in the 1974 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final in the Netherlands that, literally, almost nobody turned up at the massive FEYENOORD STADION in Rotterdam to witness the actual contest.
“The Golden Boy” of Italian football, the legendary GIANNI RIVERA, was still the star for AC Milan, who had also captured the prestiguous European Cup of Champions five years earlier in 1969. The soon-to-be four-time World Cup veteran was joined in the middle of the park by ROMEO BENETTI, who was destined be a member of the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cup final tournament squads for Italy. Anchoring the defense, meanwhile, was aging West Germany international KARL-HEINZ SCHNELLINGER, the 35-year-old who had been with AC Milan nearly a decade now and had already appeared at three World Cup final tournaments.
FC Magdeburg, if not very familiar to football fans in the West, were stocked with five players who had won the Olympic bronze medals for the German Democratic Republic at the 1972 Summer Games hosted by Munich in the Federal Republic of Germany. One of these performers, JUERGEN SPARWASSER, had scored the decisive goal in the second leg of the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon and was roughly six weeks away from recording a most historic tally against the host nation at the 1974 FIFA World Cup final tournament held in West Germany. Another was JUERGEN POMMERENKE, the midfield engine of FC Magdeburg who had scored the first goal of the historic all-German encounter at Munich’s Olympiastadion.
Although the attendance figure was politely announced as five thousand spectators, the correct total at the arena with a capacity at that time for 69,000 and the affectionate nickname of De Kuib (the Tub) was actually a lot closer to only 4,000 — this easily set the all-time record for box office futility for a Final of a major European competition and, in all likelihood, is a mark which will never be ‘beaten’.
AC Milan might have taken the lead first in the opening forty-five minutes but a shot from uncapped forward CARLO TRESOLDI off a fine play from a set piece was repelled only by the diving effort of outstretched FC Magdeburg goalkeeper ULRICH SCHULZE. Shortly before the halftime whistle, emerging 19-year-old winger DETLEF RAUGUST found luck after a long solo run from midfield down the left flank. What seemed to be a routine cross from the soon-to-be World Cup forward would be, somehow, steered past veteran goalkeeper PIERLUIGI PIZZABALLA, a reserve on Italy’s 1966 World Cup roster, by AC Milan’s uncapped defender ENRICO LANZI to give FC Magdeburg a most surprising 1-0 advantage.
Coincidentally or not, after the conclusion of the 1973/74 campaign, both Lanzi and Tresoldi would be transferred by AC Milan to AS Varese in the off-season summer.
In the second half, after both would-be East Germany World Cup forward MARTIN HOFFMANN and Sparwasser had been kept out by Pizzaballa, the AC Milan captain might have leveled the match at the Tub in Rotterdam. A header from Rivera was ticketed for the upper corner with the goalkeeper having no chance but FC Magdeburg defender WOLFGANG ABRAHAM was able to save the day by using his head to clear the ball off the line. Unfortunately for the current holders, this failed opportunity would prove itself to to be the very last chance for AC Milan to retain its Cup Winners’ Cup title.
Two of the Olympic bronze medalists from the 1972 Summer Games at Munich put the matter to bed with a little over a quarter of an hour remaining to play. Left midfielder AXEL TYLL produced a surgical, swerving ball through the box for overlapping midfielder WOLFGANG SEGUIN to settle over on the right and the soon-to-be World Cup participant powerfully shot past the luckless Pizzaballa at close range. It was a perfect moment for Seguin to manifest his very first goal of the season in Europe for FC Magdeburg, then.
The finest hour of East German football had arrived, even if very few were actually on hand in Holland to see it.
GK — Pierluigi PIZZABALLA —————– (Italy : 1 cap)
DF — Giuseppe SABADINI ——————– (Italy : 7 caps, 0 go)
DF — Angelo ACQUILLETTI —————– (Italy : 2 caps, 0 go)
DF — Enrico LANZI
DF — Karl Heinz SCHNELLINGER ——— (West Germany : 47 caps, 1 go)
MF — Aldo MALDERA ————————— (Italy : 10 caps, 0 go)
MF — Romeo BENETTI ————————- (Italy : 55 caps, 2 go)
MF — Gianni RIVERA —————————- (Italy : 60 caps, 14 go)
FW — Alberto BIGON
FW — Carlo TRESOLDI
FW — Franco BERGAMASCHI
FW — Alessandro TURINI
for Bergamaschi – 60th min
trainer — Giovanni TRAPATTONI
GK — Ulrich SCHULZE ———————– (East Germany : 1 cap)
DF — Detlef ENGE
DF — Manfred ZAPF ————————— (East Germany : 16 caps, 0 go)
DF — Wolfgang ABRAHAM
DF — Helmut GAUBE
MF — Wolfgang SEGUIN ——————— (East Germany : 19 caps, 0 go)
MF — Juergen POMMERENKE ———— (East Germany : 53 caps, 3 go)
MF — Axel TYLL ———————————- (East Germany : 4 caps, 0 go)
FW — Detlef RAUGUST ———————– (East Germany : 3 caps, 0 go)
FW — Juergen SPARWASSER ————- (East Germany : 48 caps, 14 go)
FW — Martin HOFFMANN ——————- (East Germany : 62 caps, 15 go)
trainer — Heinz KRUEGEL
East German Football’s Finest Moment In Europe — the playing staff and accompanying team officials of 1973/74 Oberliga champion FC MAGDEBURG celebrate their success in the 1974 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final and pose for the traditional photograph with the trophy at the essentially empty Feyenoord Stadion in Rotterdam, Holland.