Also known as the World Club or Toyota Cup, the Inter-Continental Cup was the brainchild of Henri Delauney, the former general secretary of UEFA. His suggestion, that the champions of two continents should compete for one global trophy, also inspired the creation of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s answer to the European Cup.
Between 1960 and 1980 all finals were played over two legs. Strangely, up until 1968 points, not aggregate score, was the decisive factor and if the points were level, a third match was required. The first winners of the competition were Real Madrid; AC Milan, Penarol and Nacional have since won the competition a record three times each.
Manchester United’s first appearance in the competition was in 1968 when they lost a brutal tie against Estudiantes de La Plata of Argentina. The South Americans won 1-0 at home and held United to a 1-1 draw in Manchester. In 1969 the first two-legged final based on aggregate scores was played.
The competition came close to being disbanded in the 1970s when a number of European clubs, such as Ajax, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, complained at the over aggressive play of the South Americans. The competition has also survived such things as pitched battles, corruption claims and rule bending.
In 1980 Japanese sponsors Toyota came to the rescue with its proposal of a one-off match to be played annually in Tokyo, in the hope of generating interest for football in Japan. Since then the competition has grown in popularity.
United's first success in the final came in November 1999, several months after the club's second European Cup triumph. Brazilian side Palmeiras were the Reds' opponents in Tokyo, where a single first-half goal from skipper Roy Keane and outstanding performances from Ryan Giggs and goalkeeper Mark Bosnich helped United to be crowned world champions for the first time.