Chelsea FC have entered the pantheon of clubs that have won all three major UEFA trophies. UEFA.com recalls how AFC Ajax, FC Bayern München and Juventus gained admittance.
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Chelsea FC's UEFA Europa League success in Amsterdam means they have joined an illustrious band of clubs to have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions.
The Blues, who were crowned European champions for the first time last season, added the UEFA Europa League to their roll of honour with a 2-1 defeat of SL Benfica at the Amsterdam ArenA. The first continental silverware in the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet was the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup, a prize they also collected in 1998.
Only three other teams have lifted each of the European Champion Clubs' Cup, UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. UEFA.com recounts that elite trio's distinguished forays into Europe.
Using the template set by coach Rinus Michels and inspired by Johan Cruyff, Ajax's brand of 'total football' overwhelmed opponents at the start of the 1970s. They picked up the European Cup three times, the latter two coming under Romanian Ştefan Kovács, though it was not until Cruyff returned as coach and led a side to Cup Winners' Cup glory in 1987 that they increased their European haul.
Marco van Basten scored the only goal against 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig in that Athens final, yet it was a new generation that Louis van Gaal steered to UEFA Cup success in 1992, edging out Torino FC in the two-legged final on away goals. Many of that team were still in place three years later when Ajax defied the odds to win the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern carried on from where Ajax left off. Restricted to their 1967 Cup Winners' Cup triumph against Rangers FC until the mid-1970s, Bayern then ran riot. A side driven by Uli Hoeness and Franz Beckenbauer landed three successive continental titles courtesy of final victories against Club Atlético de Madrid – 4-0 in a replay – Leeds United AFC and AS Saint-Etienne.
However, the Bavarians did not get their hands on that most coveted prize again until 2001, when they had Oliver Kahn to thank for a heroic display in the penalty shoot-out against Valencia CF. By that time, they had already completed their European 'treble' with a two-legged defeat of FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup showpiece. Another European Cup has been tantalisingly close in recent years, not least when Chelsea denied them at their own stadium last term.
Last out of the starting blocks, Juventus's name was first engraved on a European trophy in 1977 when they beat Athletic Club to claim the UEFA Cup. A side containing the likes of Paolo Rossi, Michel Platini and Zbigniew Boniek went on to taste more glory in the coming years. The Bianconeri fell at the final hurdle in the 1983 European Cup but bounced back to lift the Cup Winners' Cup the following campaign.
They then won the 1985 European Cup, though this was a triumph overshadowed by the Heysel Stadium tragedy that unfolded at the final against Liverpool FC. Two more UEFA Cups were already under lock and key by the time they reached the European summit once more, wrestling Ajax's crown off them with a penalties victory against the Amsterdam team in the 1996 showpiece.