Eintracht Frankfurt are through to a third European club competition final. - © IMAGO/Patrick Scheiber/IMAGO/Jan Huebner
Eintracht Frankfurt are through to a third European club competition final. - © IMAGO/Patrick Scheiber/IMAGO/Jan Huebner
bundesliga

Eintracht Frankfurt: A rich history in European football

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From going toe to toe with the great Real Madrid team of the late 1950s-early 1960s to winning the 1979/80 UEFA Cup and reaching the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League final, Eintracht Frankfurt boast a storied European history...

Frankfurt are enjoying their best ever run in the Europa League, after topping their group and accounting for the likes of Barcelona and West Ham on their way to the final in Seville, where they will face Glasgow Rangers, on 18 May.

The Eagles reached the semi-finals in 2018/19, only losing on penalties to eventual winners Chelsea, and the last 16 the following year. In 2013/14, Porto ended their interest in the competition in the second round.

They previously contested the 1959/60 European Cup final, going down 7-3 to the all-conquering Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas-inspired Real Madrid, before enjoying 10 seasons in the UEFA Cup - the Europa League's precursor - a competition they won in 1979/80. Four campaigns in each of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup complete the club's continental record book.

Daily newspaper Die Welt jokingly christened the 1979/80 UEFA Cup "the Bundesliga Cup" on account of four teams from Germany reaching the tournament's semi-finals. Indeed, add Kaiserslautern to the mix, and there were five teams from the German top-flight among the last eight. Joining the eventual finalists at the semi-final stage, both Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart were ousted despite enjoying first-leg leads.

Having edged Eintracht 2-0 at the Olympiastadion, Bayern lost the second leg 5-1, with Eintracht scoring twice in normal time to level the tie before a Harald Karger double and Werner Lorant's penalty secured victory in extra time.

Borussia Mönchengladbach were the defending UEFA Cup champions after winning the 1979 edition when a total of three German teams reached the last four. Die Fohlen went down to Stuttgart 2-1 at the Neckarstadion, but a 2-0 victory by Jupp Heynckes's men in the return leg in Gladbach, with a certain Lothar Matthäus on the scoresheet, powered the Foals into a second successive final.

With the finals being contested over two legs back then, Gladbach hosted the showpiece's meeting between the domestic foes on 7 May, and the hosts looked to be up against it, trailing as they were by 2-1 with just 19 minutes remaining. But late goals from Matthäus and Christian Kulik - with his second of the game - put Borussia back in the driving seat ahead of the return in Frankfurt two weeks later.

Eintracht faced the much-feared Bayern Munich in the 1980 UEFA Cup last four. - /

In front of 60,000 fans at the Waldstadion, Eintracht went in search of the all-important goal that would have put Friedel Rausch's team ahead on away goals. The game was a tense, nervy affair with both teams largely cancelling each other out.

The game's decisive moment eventually arrived in the 81st minute as Frankfurt substitute Fred Schaub struck. Just four minutes after entering the game, Schaub wriggled his way through and poked a finish past Wolfgang Kneib, to send the crowd inside the stadium into raptures. The UEFA Cup had a new winner and it remains Eintracht's only major continental silverware to this day.

"When I won the UEFA Cup with Frankfurt, I couldn't really assess it at the time," Eintracht's Cha Bum-kun later told bundesliga.com. "I had only been in Germany for a few months and didn't realise the significance of this success," the now 68-year-old added.

"This competition was not even known in South Korea. Only the World Cup counted and no European club titles. I thought we could win the UEFA Cup every year!

Frankfurt legend Bernd Hölzenbein (c.l.) lifts the UEFA Cup. - Laci Perenyi, via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Laci Perenyi

"My teammates were very happy. I got pats on the back all over town and as I lifted the trophy on the Römer, the crowds cheered me on. That's when I realised that we must have done something special."

Eintracht midfielder Werner Lorant, added: "There was a real party in Frankfurt. When we arrived in the city, when we took the bus... the streets were full. There were people everywhere who welcomed us. Football is so fast-moving these days, but the image of that game is always in my head."

"That was one of the most important victories for Eintracht Frankfurt and one of the biggest titles in the club's history," defender Charly Körbel explained. "We put everything into [those] games."

That goalscoring feeling! Fred Schaub scored the crucial goal that won Frankfurt the UEFA Cup. - Laci Perenyi, via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Laci Perenyi

Tragically, Eintracht's second-leg winner, Schaub, died in a car accident in 2003 at the age of 42. However, the striker's name, and the entire Frankfurt team of 1980, have become immortalised following their magnificent feats.

In the city's Bockenheim district, a huge mural commemorates the achievement. Oliver Glasner's current crop of Eintracht stars are just one game away from immortality.