The northern Swedish city of Umea was founded by King Gustav II Adolf in 1622, 266 years before much of it was destroyed by fire. When the city was rebuilt thousands of birch trees were planted, subsequently earning the city the nickname 'Björkarnas stad', or ' the town of silver birches'. In June 2003 it became associated with gold, as Umeå IK defeated Danish challengers Fortuna Hjørring to win the UEFA Women's Cup at the second attempt having lost the inaugural final to 1. FFC Frankfurt the previous year.
The second edition of the club competition saw an increase in both the numbers of clubs entering, 35 as opposed to 33, and excitement as the two finalists blazed a trail for the Nordic nations. UEFA President Lennart Johansson said: "The fact that both finalists were Scandinavian only served to enhance the image of football in this region as a benchmark for the rest of Europe. Women's football continues to increase in popularity throughout Europe and tournaments that foster international competition between clubs can only help to raise the standard of the game here."
Six of the quarter-finalists from the previous edition repeated their achievement this time around, with Hjørring and CSK VVS Samara of Russia the only newcomers. The latter fell to Arsenal LFC in the last eight, although the English champions were comfortably dispatched 8-2 on aggregate by Hjørring in the next stage. The drama was saved for the other semi, where Umeå and their nemeses from 2002, 1. FFC Frankfurt, were locked at 2-2 on aggregate after two legs. After a goalless extra 30 minutes, the Swedish side held their nerve in the shoot-out to win 8-7 on penalties - Hanna Marklund the hero.
The result of the final, now a two-legged affair, was never in doubt after Umeå won 4-1 at home thanks to a storming display from Hanna Ljungberg, suspended for the 2002 final, who scored twice and created the other two in front of a record Gammliavallen crowd of 7,600. Hjørring coach Steen Refsgaard admitted his side "would need a miracle" to overturn that deficit in Denmark and so it proved as Malin Möstrom, Laura Kalmari and Ljungberg scored without reply as Umeå became the second champions of Europe.
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