Duesseldorf ’81 — Scintilating Cup Final Nobody Saw


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Enterprising veteran midfielder GERHARD HOPPE (# 3 in white, center) of G.D.R. outfit FC CARL ZEISS JENA hammers a stunning side-footed shot on target opposite U.S.S.R. side Dinamo Tbilisi during the exciting 1981 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final match at the near-empty Rhinestadion in Duesseldorf, West Germany.
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The all-Eastern Bloc final featuring Georgian club DINAMO TBILISI of the Soviet Union and East German outfit FC CARL ZEISS JENA manifested an epic disaster of historic proportions for the box office gate but the football, itself, delivered what turned out to be a delightfully entertaining second half if seen by not very many.

But not before the 1981 UEFA CUP WINNERS’ CUP FINAL, which was contested at the Rheinstadion in Duesseldorf, West Germany, established what will forever be the all-time mark for meager attendance. An eye-opening, official figure of only 4,750 fans barely even began to fill the facility by the famous Rhine River which had a capacity for 76,000 at that time. Of course, the harsh reality that travel for ordinary citizens in both the Deutsche Demokratische Republik and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was heavily restricted during this time period had a tremendous impact.

In addition, the closed-nature of the Warsaw Pact societies ensured that football fans in Western Europe were not very familiar with Eastern European star players. This, not surprisingly, also exacted its expected toll on ticket sales for the match in Duesseldorf. Interesting enough, Dinamo Tbilisi, indeed, were fielding three of the last four Soviet Footballers of the Year — David Kipiani, Ramaz Shengelia, Aleksandr Chivadze — while FC Carl Zeiss Jena featured the reigning East German Footballer of the Year in Hans-Ulrich Grapenthin at the Rheinstadion.

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After a scoreless first half, FC Carl Zeiss Jena jumped to the lead in the 63rd minute after a very attractive build-up which began in its own defensive third. The movement featured seven astute passes before a most effective cross was put over by aging 38-year-old striker EBERHARD VOGEL, the second-leading goal-scorer in the entire history of the East German national team. 30-year-old veteran midfielder GERHARD HOPPE, who never appeared with the senior national team of of the D.D.R., raced onto the ball after it had bounced into the box and struck a stunning side volley with the outside of his right foot.

Dinamo Tbilisi did not stay down for long, however, and equalized less than five minutes later. Would-be U.S.S.R. World Cup striker RAMAZ SHENGELIA, a two-time Soviet Footballer of the Year who scored four goals for the Georgian side during the 1980-81 campaign in Europe, ran straight at the FC Carl Zeiss Jena defense before releasing U.S.S.R. international midfielder VLADIMIR GUTSAEV on the right. The 28-year-old, who would later in life become a member of the Parliament of a free and independent Georgia, made no mistake and shot past East Germany international goalkeeper HANS-ULRICH GRAPENTHIN low to the short side in the 67th minute.

In doing so, Gutsaev pulled level with Shengelia for the club lead with four goals in Europe that year; with less than five minutes remaining, a masterful moment of individual brilliance produced a memorable match-winner completely worthy of a Cup Final.

Soviet international VITALY DARASELIA of Dinamo Tbilisi accepted a ball in midfield on the left and also ran straight at the heart of the FC Carl Zeiss Jena. The 23-year-old left midfielder dribbled into the box and beat two defenders, the second with a most sharp cut-back move. With a clear line of fire from about ten yards out or so, the youngster smashed a low shot with the outside of his left foot just inside Grapenthin’s right hand post.

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The match-winning goal for Dinamo Tbilisi at the 1981 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final in Duesseldorf proved to be the high point in the short-lived football career of U.S.S.R. international VITAL DARASELIA (above); the left-sided midfielder, who appeared in four of the Soviet Union’s five matches at the FIFA World Cup in Spain, was killed in an automobile accident in December of 1982.

Ironically enough, fellow U.S.S.R. international DAVID KIPIANI — the 1976 Olympic bronze medalist who passed the ball to Daraselia and, thus, prompted the match-winning strike for Dinamo Tbilisi against FC Carl Zeiss Jena — also later perished in an automobile accident, although in 2001, many years after his career ended.

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