Top 10 trophy fairytales in European football

It’s probably what we all secretly hope for every year: a trophy fairytale by some unknown European football club. It’s often enough that the big prizes are carried off by a big club from Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain. Boring! That’s why we hope for a surprise again this year.

But which clubs have actually been able to pull it off in the past? In this blog you’ll find out.

1.KFC Uerdingen 05 – DFB Pokal 1985

Uerdingen had its real triumphs in the ‘80s. In the 1985/86 season, the club made it to third place of the Bundesliga and to everyone’s surprise, won the DFB Pokal by beating Bayern Munich 2-1. KFC Uerdingen then even made it to the half finals of the Europa Cup II (the Europa cup for cup winners) by beating Dynamo Dresden 7-3, 6 goals of which were marked in the second half of that match, propelling them forward in the competition from that point on. After their sponsor, Bayer, pulled the plug, financial troubles quickly followed. Nowadays, KFC Uerdingen plays the Regionalliga West, the fourth level in Germany.

KFC Uerdingen - DFB Pokal 1985

2. Kickers Offenbach – DFB Pokal 1970

For Kickers Offenbach, winning the DFB Pokal 1970 was the biggest success in the club’s history. There are some honorable mentions of clubs winning trophies from before the World War 2, but that hardly counts as quite the same thing. In the DFB Pokal season 1969/70, Kickers Offenbach, as second-class club, beat the then number 1, FC Köln 2-1. The following season, it came out against Club Brugge in the Europa Cup II, but was eliminated right away.

Kickers Offenbach - DFB Pokal 1970

3. Wigan Athletic – FA Cup 2013

For the faithful follower of the Premier League, Wigan Athletic should ring some bells. Between 2005 and 2013, The Latics were contenders at the highest level in England. Despite having relegated in 2013, that same year Wigan Athletic did win the FA Cup by beating top club, Manchester City. That made them the first club ever, to relegate and win the FA Cub in one single season. In the group phase of the Europa League the following season, they ended up in the last place in a group with Maribor, Rubin Kazan and Zulte Waregem.

4. Wimbledon FC – FA Cup 1988

Wimbledon FC was a club from South West London. The club changed its name to Milton Keynes Dons, and moved some 60 miles away to Milton Keynes in 2003. The Wimbledon FC fans were enraged and decided to start a club of their own, by the name of AFC Wimbledon. Both clubs play League One today and not surprisingly, are each other’s biggest enemies. Old Wimbledon FC won the FA Cup in 1988 with a team that came to be known as Wimbledon’s ‘’Crazy Gang’’, given it had quite a number of ‘odd characters’ in it.

Wimbledon FC - FA Cup 1988

5. EA Guingamp – Coupe de France 2009 and 2014

A Guingamp is a tiny club from the town of Guingamp in Bretagne of no more than some 8000 inhabitants. However, they managed to take home the French Trophy twice, in 2009 and 2014. Most notable was the fact that both times, the opponent was Stade Rennes from the same region. This meant, of course, that the club got to play Europa League twice as well. In 2009 it was severely beaten by HSV and in the 2014-15 season it ran aground in the group stages against Dinamo Kiev. Nowadays, EA Guingamp keeps itself pretty steady halfway the Ligue 1.

EA Guingamp - Coupe de France 2014

6. Lorient – Coupe de France 2002

On May 11, 2002, FC Lorient, from the port town of Lorient, won the Coupe de France by beating SC Bastia 0-1. Quite the achievement, especially considering previously in the competition it had taken on Stade Rennes and PSG. In fact, between its founding in 1926 until its entering the League 1 in 1998, it had been little more than a ‘promising’ amateur club.

Nice little fact: Lorient’s trophy win went viral thanks to Rémi Gaillard.

Lorient - Coupe de France 2002

7. Vincenza – Coppa Italia 1997

Vicenza Calcio from the town of Vicenza, played in the Serie A for quite a number of years in the ‘60s, ’70s and ‘90s. Though, the only real success was winning the Coppa Italia in 1997. The finals were then still played in two rounds. Playing the first match away from home, they were beaten 1-0 by Napoli. At home, however, and though after extra time, Vicenza Calcio won with no less than 3-0. In January 2018, the club went bankrupt after several years of financial problems and scandals.

Vicenza Calcio - Coppa Italia 1997

8. Atalanta Bergamo – Coppa Italia 1963

Atalanta Bergamo ended its 2016/17 season in fourth place of the Serie A. Nothing to be ashamed of, for sure! However, in the 1962/63 season, Atalanta Bergamo won the Coppa Italia by beating Torino in the finals 3-1. Next to championships in the Series B, C and lower divisions, this is by far the Nerazzuri’s best achievement.

Atalanta Bergamo - Coppa Italia 1963

9. Real Mallorca – Copa del Rey 2003

In Spain it is pretty rare that a club other than FC Barcelona or Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey. Of the 115 Copa del Rey finals this was the case in 48 of them. FC Barcelona won 29 and Real Madrid 19. In the 2002/03 season, Real Mallorca was pretty much given free reign after Barcelona got tripped up against Novelda CF and they themselves beat Real Madrid away with 5-1 spread out over two matches. A real trophy hat trick! In the finals Real Mallorca beat Recreativo de Huelva by 3-0.

Real Mallorca - Copa del Rey 2003

10. Real Betis – Copa del Rey 1977 & 2005

Real Betis managed to surprise everyone not once but twice in the Spanish championship. In the 1976/77 season, Los Verdiblancos won their first Copa del Rey by beating Athletic Bilbao in penalties. It had to wait almost 30 years for its next prize. In the 2004/05 season, Betis beat Osasuna 2-1 in overtime, in Estadio Vicente Calderón.

Real Betis - Copa del Rey 2005