Brazilian sensation Marta announced herself as a great in the making as Umeå IK became the first club to retain the UEFA Women’s Cup. 1. FFC Frankfurt, who had defeated the Swedish champions in the inaugural final two years earlier, were simply overwhelmed by the striker's blend of speed, trickery and endeavour over the two legs, with Marta scoring twice in the 3-0 win at home and the opener in the 5-0 return in Germany.
Forty teams entered the competition in summer 2003, with Maccabi Holon FC of Israel, Austrian side SV Neulengbach and ŽNK Osijek from Croatia advancing from the qualifying round to complete a 36-team group stage from which eight clubs progressed to the quarter-finals. Brøndby IF – who denied 2003 runners-up Fortuna Hjørring a place in the competition by pipping them to the Danish title – proved their class by thrashing Gömrükçü Baku of Azerbaijan 12-0 on aggregate in the last eight, while Frankfurt, Umeå and a second Swedish club, Malmö FF, also won through.
Umeå suffered a setback when their prolific Swedish international striker Hanna Ljungberg was ruled out for six months with a cruciate injury before their semi-final with Brøndby yet won both legs to reach a third successive final 4-2 on aggregate. Frankfurt were held in Sweden to a scoreless draw by Malmö before a 4-1 victory in the return won them another date with Umeå. Both clubs played away from their usual stadiums in the final – Umeå at the Råsunda in Stockholm as Frankfurt did not want to play on an artificial pitch; Frankfurt at the 15,000-capacity Bornheimer Hang due to the huge demand for tickets – yet the result was never in doubt following Marta’s virtuoso display in the Swedish capital.
While Marta was seemingly ushering in a new era, a proud one came to a close as Frankfurt coach Monica Staab agreed to end her eleven-year spell at the helm. Club manager Siegfried Dietrich said: "Monica is one of the pioneers of women's football and has done a great job for our club in the last eleven years. Ten titles in domestic and European competitions speak for themselves and she played a huge role in making 1. FFC Frankfurt the club it is."
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