Real Madrid CF began their European dominance in the inaugural final of 1956 – one of UEFA's 60 Legendary Moments and still "a great thrill" for Paco Gento.
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The inaugural European Champion Clubs' Cup final of 1956 was a step into the unknown for everyone, not least the players themselves. "We knew almost nothing about football abroad," remembers Paco Gento, who helped Real Madrid CF edge a thrilling tussle with Stade de Reims to emerge as the continent's first ever champions.
The Parc des Princes was the venue for a landmark occasion in the history of the European game, and the match more than lived up to its billing. Reims raced into a 2-0 lead after just ten minutes, and although Alfredo Di Stéfano and Héctor Rial brought Madrid level, the French side went ahead again through Michel Hidalgo – before Manuel Marquitos and Rial sealed a 4-3 triumph for the new kings of Europe.
"The first one was very important," says Gento, the pacy winger having featured in all five of Madrid's final wins between 1956 and 1960. "The first one we played in Paris was also quite difficult, so winning it was a great thrill for us. We knew almost nothing about football abroad, and we didn't have TVs or videos, so we had to build a team and we didn't know how our opponents played or which system they used."