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The 1979 European Cup Final was a football match held at the Olympiastadion, Munich, on 30 May 1979 (the venue was decided in Bern by the UEFA Executive Committee on 27 September 1978). It saw Nottingham Forest of England defeat Malmö FF of Sweden 1–0. The win represented a third successive victory for an English side in the European Cup after Liverpool's victories in 1977 and 1978.
The competition had provided many great stories and had thrown up a final that no-one could have predicted when it had started the previous August. Unfortunately, with two of their best players – midfielder Bo Larsson and defender Roy Andersson – already ruled out with injury and with their captain and key midfielder – Staffan Tapper – breaking his toe in training on the eve of the final, Malmö FF resorted to the same defensive tactics that Belgian team Club Bruges had used at Wembley in the final twelve months earlier. With neither of the finalists being one of Europe’s major clubs, Munich’s Olympiastadion was far from full for the Final, and the game itself was something of an anti-climax. There was, however, one memorable story still to be told. Back in February, Brian Clough had elected to spend the money that Forest had made from winning the league title in 1978 on a forward from Birmingham City. Clough made Trevor Francis Britain’s first £1 million footballer when he took him to Nottingham, but UEFA rules stipulated that he could not play European football for another three months. The first game that Francis was eligible for, therefore, was the final itself and, with Martin O'Neill injured and Archie Gemmill not selected by Clough, Francis was picked to play his first ever European club game, albeit out on the right wing.
Route to the final
With Malmö FF sitting back in defence, the game was merely about whether Forest could break through. Despite constant pressure, the English side had still failed to score as first half injury time began, but then John Robertson, a man who was now one of the most feared wingers in European football, beat two Swedish defenders on the left hand side before whipping in a cross. Goalkeeper Jan Möller, who had been solid up to this point, did not come out to clear the ball, and at the far post was none other than Trevor Francis to head the ball into the roof of the net.
And that was effectively the end of the match. Both Garry Birtles and Robertson missed good chances in the second half, but it did not matter, as Malmö FF never looked likely to score.
It may have been an unremarkable final, but it was certainly the end to a remarkable story. Under their maverick manager Brian Clough, Nottingham Forest, a relatively small English provincial club, had won European club football’s biggest prize. In a competition that had started with the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool taking part, it was Nottingham Forest who had run out winners, even knocking the current holders Liverpool (who had won the last two finals) in the first round. They had shown what man management and teamwork could achieve and they would be back the following season to defend their title, although Europe’s finest would be there to challenge them and they were unlikely to capitulate so easily next time around.