For the first time in eight seasons European football returns to Tannadice tonight as Dundee United FC host Myllykosken Pallo-47 in the second leg of their UEFA Cup second qualifying round tie.
Turkish side Trabzonspor were the last team to play United in European competition back in August 1997, but a goalless draw in Finland a fortnight ago leaves United as favourites to reach the first round proper and embark on a new adventure in Europe.
"Half the job has been done but if they get a goal the tie is wide open again," manager Gordon Chisholm told uefa.com. "Apparently the European nights are something special here at Tannadice, so with the crowd behind us we are confident without being complacent."
Back in the 1980s, continental football was a staple for United supporters and the team built by Jim McLean took some notable scalps, including FC Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in successful European Champion Clubs' Cup and UEFA Cup campaigns.
In their first tilt at the European Cup in the 1983/84 season, United reached the semi-finals before narrowly losing out to Italian giants AS Roma, but their greatest achievement came in 1987 when the Tangerines became the first Scottish side to contest a UEFA Cup final.
United eventually lost 2-1 to IFK Göteborg over two legs but that campaign is best remembered for an amazing away performance against Terry Venables's Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the quarter-finals. United chairman Eddie Thompson, then an ordinary supporter, takes up the story.
"They scored to make it 1-1 on aggregate and I thought the tie was lost but big John Clark got a goal back and then Paul Sturrock delivered a great cross to Iain Ferguson, who scored with a header. I suddenly realised Barcelona needed three goals to win and then started to relax. Jim McLean allowed them one beer each to celebrate, but we all ended up in Luggy's [Sturrock's] room for a party and stayed there most of the night."
That 2-1 triumph in Spain is chronicled in a special DVD, European Glory Goals, which Thompson handed out to fans and players travelling to the first leg in Finland. It was a typical act of generosity by a chairman who has ploughed around €3.7m of his own money into the club. However, the current squad are adamant that United's European pedigree won't be a burden as they seek to write a new chapter in Tannadice folklore.
"That's all in the past, it's history now," said midfielder Grant Brebner, who scored twice in United's first league win of the season against Motherwell FC last week. "Those were fantastic times for the club, but there's a new group of players here now and we have to look to the future."
A place in the group stage would be a major achievement for United but Chisholm - himself a European novice - feels it is a reasonable target. "As long as we have all our players fit and available, I think we have a good chance of reaching the group stage," he said. "We are all desperate to get beyond this round and get another taste of it, but first of all we have to see this job through."
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