History

Winning the Cup Winners’ Cup recalled: Johnny Boyle

On today’s anniversary of the club winning European silverware for the first time, we revisit an interview with one of the players who played both matches in Greece when the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup replay went to a replay. Johnny Boyle enjoyed his finest moment playing right-back for Dave Sexton's team against Real Madrid...

In 1960, one of the greatest European Cup Finals took place just down the road from a young Scottish lad and his friends, who watched in awe as Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.

Growing up in Motherwell, not far from Glasgow's Hampden Park Stadium where the game was being played, Johnny Boyle could only imagine what it would be like to one day play on the world stage in a European final. After that enthralling encounter, the young Boyle (pictured top on the left) and his friends took to the park for a kick-about, each one of them pretending to be a player from Madrid's line-up.

Boyle himself adopted the legendary Francesco Gento's name for the schoolboys' game. The Frankfurt game was Gento's fifth European final; he would play in another four during his illustrious career. Ironically, Boyle would also be involved in one of those finals when, at 24 years old, he lined up at right-back for the Blues in Athens for the 1971 Cup Winners' Cup Final.

'It was difficult because here's this guy who I admired so much growing up,' reveals Boyle. 'I remember after the final in 1960, running out onto a little bit of green outside my house and me and my mates were the Madrid team.

'Then 10 years later there's me at right-back and there's Francisco Gento at outside-left and I'm marking him. I was playing alongside one of the all-time greats, Francesco Gento at Real Madrid. I was actually standing beside him, it was just amazing!
 

'I swapped shirts with Gento at the end of the game and my team mate Keith Weller said that was the quickest I'd run all night to get Gento's shirt. He said he had his eyes on it but I ran so fast I got it.'

To get to the final, Chelsea had already faced Cup Winners' Cup-holders Manchester City in an all-England semi, which was played over two legs. Chelsea won both 1-0.

'When we played Manchester City it was just like playing in the League, but it was still an exciting setting. They were a good team at the time,' remembers Boyle.

After that came the trip to the Greek capital and a meeting with Real Madrid. The first 90 minutes ended indecisive, with both sides netting once.

Chelsea had taken an early second-half lead when Peter Osgood calmly slotted home with 56 minutes on the clock. Blues fans in the stadium could have been forgiven for thinking the game was won as the half drew to a close but with 90 minutes played, Ignacio Zoco pulled one back. And so it was, in the days before penalty shoot-outs, that the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup went to a replay which took place two days later, a scenario unheard of today.

In the second match defender John Dempsey and Peter Osgood both netted in the first half. Sebastian Fleitas pulled one back in the second half but it was too little, too late for Madrid. For young players in a strange country who had just won one of Europe's main football tournaments, there was only one thing to do once the formalities were over.
 

'Then the celebrations began,' recalls Boyle.

'To win it was just so amazing; it all seems a bit of a blur now. I remember it was a Friday night and we went out in Athens, we didn't get in until 6am or 7am and the plane home was at 9am.

'We arrived back at Heathrow to an awaiting crowd who lined the streets in Fulham, it was amazing. It was fantastic to be coming back to London with a European Cup.

'I had already experienced the bus tours because I was on the bus for the FA Cup,' adds Boyle, who missed that famous day the year before through injury, 'but because I hadn't played it was different. It was great for the supporters then though but for me coming back from Europe was amazing.
 

'In fact my dad told me a lovely story. He wouldn't fly and watched it on television. I had given him an old 1966 Chelsea jacket, and he really looked after it. The night of the final he sat at home and watched it. When the final whistle had blown he put that top on and walked round to the pub and when he walked in everyone in there started clapping and cheering him.

'He said there were tears running down his face because he couldn't believe his boy had been in Europe.'

Check out the Retro Blues box set on the 5th Stand 

 

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