United’s players are dreaming of lifting the European Cup at Wembley tomorrow, but ManUtd.com spoke to a man who already has – 1968 winner Alex Stepney - for his recollections of lifting the trophy and the aftermath…
At the club back in 1968, how great was the desire to win the European Cup?
You could tell it was the ultimate aim. Apart from me, Paddy (Crerand) and Tony Dunne, everyone else had come through the system. There was a feeling that possibly this was Matt Busby’s last chance. He’d been beaten in semi-finals before by Partizan and Real Madrid, so it was a case of ‘this is it, we’ve got to do it’, and there seemed to be some fate at work that season, especially when we beat Real Madrid in the semi-final, Bobby (Charlton) was captain and Bill (Foulkes) put us into the final with his goal, and they were both survivors of Munich.
Was the final all the more special for being at Wembley?
It’s the most daunting experience you could ever have as a footballer, to be stood in that tunnel next to the lads you’re going to play against, and you walk out – it’s a hell of a walk, even out to the centre – and it was absolutely incredible. It was a lovely warm night, with 100,000 there, and the roar of the crowd was unforgettable – there must have been 90,000 United supporters there. It wasn’t like a cup final where you’ve got one end red and one end blue; it was just a sea of red.
How did it feel to actually win the cup?
It was a fantastic experience when that final whistle went. There was something within everybody that knew how much it meant after Munich. It was kind of taboo to talk about it, but when the final whistle went, we all went to Bobby (Charlton), Bill (Foulkes) and Matt (Busby). We knew how much it meant to them and also the families of the lads who passed away. When it happened, and after all the presentation and running round the pitch and that, it was like the end of a book.