Both FC Barcelona and UC Sampdoria had delighted supporters with their exciting attacking football in the 1991/92 season, yet their European Champion Clubs' Cup final meeting was not the high-scoring thriller many anticipated.
Instead, a fascinating tactical duel between Johan Cruyff and his opposite number Vujadin Boškov was played out in front of a capacity Wembley crowd. Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini struggled to find their range for the Italian side, while Barcelona's Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov were foiled by Gianluca Pagliuca.
It was going to take something special to separate the star-studded teams, and Ronald Koeman provided it with his superb free-kick in extra time. For Vialli, who had been in the side beaten by the Catalans in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final three years before, it would prove his final game for Sampdoria.
The former Italy striker speaks to UEFA.com about his disappointment, while Cruyff and ex-Barcelona forward Gary Lineker also look back on an emotional night in north London.
It was our first [European Cup] final, although we'd already gained a lot of experience having reached two finals in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, winning one and losing the other to Barcelona. We knew we were at least as strong as all our opponents, which was a nice feeling. We'd progressed through the two qualifying stages quite comfortably. The final was the pinnacle of ten years' hard work. It was the reward for the great work we'd done, as well as the enthusiasm and professionalism we'd shown.
On a personal level the challenge of playing in the final at Wembley was pretty difficult. We'd played an important league game against Fiorentina on the Saturday and didn't really have enough time to prepare for the final. There were also rumours that I was going to join Juventus. I was trying to focus on the match but I was a bit distracted by everything that was going on. Changing clubs was an important step in my career. In the game itself, I started to get cramp and was substituted a few minutes before the end. I wasn't really at my best.
That final will stay in my memory for a long time because it was my last match for Sampdoria. I had three really good chances to score and I could have been more clinical. I was unlucky with one chance, then [Andoni] Zubizarreta made a great save. I should have been more clinical with the third, but that's how it goes. With a bit more luck history could have been different, but we were up against a fantastic opponent.
Wembley was an old stadium full of history and tradition. I'd already played there with Sampdoria and with the national team so it wasn't new to me, but you really felt the history and tradition.
The experience I had as a coach and as a player [helped]. When you know what went wrong the first time, you know why you lost. You also know what went well the three times you won. Not a lot of people have this experience, so when you have it you can build on it and utilise it in the way you want, especially when you're a coach because as a player you think 99% about yourself. But as a coach the thinking is different because they are playing and you're not. That's what I liked most about coaching – [working out] how to get the people in possession to do what they have to do.
Well, I was at that game, I went along to watch. Obviously I had just finished at Barcelona a few years previously, so I was desperately keen that they went on and won it – and they thoroughly deserved to do so. I remember it was Koeman who knocked it away for the winner. So it was a very emotional occasion and a terrific atmosphere, as there always was at Wembley and still is.
Boškov was an extraordinary coach and also a very special person. He was my coach but he was also like a father and a friend, somebody I felt very comfortable with. We talked football together but we also talked about other things. He was very astute – a little bit like José Mourinho a couple of years ago – and was great at using psychology to give confidence to his team. Some people claimed Mancini and I put the team together, but in reality it was Boškov. Just before the final Mancini and I went to Boškov to give him some advice on tactics. As usual, he just said 'yes, yes, yes' – and then went and did exactly what he wanted.
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