Former Manchester United defender David Sadler was one of the first English players to win a European Champions Cup Winners medal when Benfica was defeated 4-1 at Wembley in 1968 and remembers that night as if it was yesterday. He has some wise words of advise for United as they head to London – once again as underdogs, in their attempt to lift the cup for a fourth time.
Sadler wrote in his weekly column for the Manchester Evening News “Manchester United must not get hung up about Lionel Messi or obsessed by Barcelona’s ranking as the best in the world at Wembley. You cannot ignore the echoes of 1968 and our European Cup success in London. The similarities are all there.
In the 60s our Wembley opponents Benfica were the super power in Europe. The Portuguese giants’ appearance in the ’68 final was their fifth in seven years. They’d won the trophy twice in 1961 and ’62. In Eusebio they had a player who was regarded as one of the best on the planet at the time. Benfica were favourites to win that evening at Wembley.
For Benfica substitute Barca and for Eusebio substitute Messi and that’s what you have this Saturday evening. But you can become too obsessed with the greatness of an opponent or get too wound up about the quality of one particular player.
We had the plus of knowing Nobby Stiles had done the same job on Eusebio for England in the World Cup semi final. Also in ’68 we knew we had match winners like George Best and Bobby Charlton who Benfica would equally have been fretting about. Barcelona will have their eyes on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia on Saturday. We have got our weapons as well.
And I am very pleased the club have invited the members of the ’68 side to Wembley. I am glad the club have recognised the Wembley connection. I firmly believe the Reds will lift the trophy on Saturday night, just as we did in 1968″
Sadler may or may not be wearing red tinted glasses. I certainly am because my sixth sense tells me that United will be lifting their fourth Champions League trophy at Wembley – destiny demands it.
Are you as confident about Uniteds chances as Sadler is?