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Bonhof and Heynckes welcome an old friend

A winner in 1975, Rainer Bonhof was thrilled "to have the trophy right next to me again" as some famous silverware returned to VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.

The trophy returns to Borussia Mönchengladbach ©Getty Images

As the UEFA Europa League group stage kicks off, the trophy is back at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, where fans – and old friends – are hoping it will return for a longer stay next summer.

Some 40 years since the start of their triumphant 1974/75 UEFA Cup campaign, 'Gladbach are delighted to have the silverware back on display. This week, supporters are expected to flood to Borussia-Park to take photographs with the UEFA Europa League trophy, which will be presented pitchside before Thursday's matchday one meeting with Group A rivals Villarreal CF. On Tuesday, though, it got to meet two old friends.

Jupp Heynckes and Rainer Bonhof were among the stars of the 'Gladbach side that beat FC Twente over two legs in the final in May 1975, so were thrilled to welcome the silverware to Borussia-Park. "It's a really good feeling to have the trophy right next to me again – I have not seen it for 40 years," said the 62-year-old Bonhof with a smile. Heynckes added: "I still remember every moment of the final in 1975 and will never forget it."

Heynckes has good reason to remember the second leg in particular, having scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 win in Enschede, following a goalless first game staged in Dusseldorf. "The Dutch side had already planned a big winners' party because they were so sure they would win," the 69-year-old recalled. "And then we beat them 5-1. That was incredible.

"After the match, we went to back to Dusseldorf," Heynckes continued. "Someone knew the owner of a disco and we went there to celebrate. It was a long, long night." So long, indeed, that Bonhof became more than a little disorientated. "Someone told me I had to turn left after leaving the place, but our bus was actually parked on the right," he said. "So I ended up taking a taxi in my kit without any money in my pockets."

That 1975 success came in the midst of a golden age for the team from North Rhine-Westphalia. 'Gladbach won the Bundesliga five times in the 1970s and reached the 1976/77 European Champion Clubs' Cup final – losing to Liverpool FC – before taking the UEFA Cup again in 1978/79. "If you don't know the past, you can't shape the future, so it's really important to cherish these men here," said club president Rolf Königs. "Borussia Mönchengladbach wouldn't be the club we are without men like Jupp Heynckes and Rainer Bonhof. I only hope the cup will come back here soon."

That is no pipe dream. "Borussia are in good shape," said Heynckes, who has coached FC Bayern München, Real Madrid CF and SL Benfica as well as 'Gladbach. "The club were on the brink a few years back but have turned things around. Some good decisions have been made since, especially getting coach Lucien Favre in. He fits in well and is an excellent coach."

"There are some very good teams involved in this campaign, but there's no reason why we can't spring a surprise like we did in 1975," added Königs. "It's exactly 40 years on so this would be the perfect time, wouldn't it?"

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