United have history when it comes to winning the European Cup at Wembley. We spoke to David Sadler, a member of the Reds’ legendary 1968 side, to glean his memories of the historic night and his prediction for Saturday’s final…
The current United team are taking on Barcelona and Lionel Messi – in your Wembley final, it was the similarly mighty Benfica and Eusebio. How much did you relish the challenge?
At the time we played Benfica they were one of the top sides in Europe without question, along with the likes of Real Madrid. The European Cup was a fairly new competition [it started in 1955] but between them, those two clubs had won most of the tournaments that had been played up to that point. They were a top side and they certainly had outstanding individuals, none more outstanding than Eusebio who, quite rightly, we thought was a fantastic player. He stands right in there alongside the greats throughout the years and obviously playing against him in a European Cup final at Wembley was as big as it gets.
Neither side scored in the first half, so was it a tense and cagey affair?
I have watched a recording of the ’68 Final but not very often – probably the last time I saw it replayed was in 1993 on the 25th anniversary! It’s easy to say these things when you know what happens at the end of it, but I think it was a pretty good match. Sometimes occasions and matches like this don’t live up to the hype, but there was a huge build-up to this match and it really lived up to it. Yes, it was 0-0 at half-time and it was a stifling hot evening, but I think the first half was a decent 45 minutes of football.
Your team eventually scored four goals, of course, through Bobby Charlton , George Best and Brian Kidd. What do you recall of them?
For the first one, Bobby had absolutely no option but to score from the cross I put in. It was a rare enough event, with an accurate cross from myself and Bobby – who didn’t head too many goals, as good as he was in the air – scored with a super header. It was fantastic for us to strike the first