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Cliff back at Benfica

Posted on 20 March 2014  - 17:00

Cliff Jones is back in Libson – and turning the clock back 52 years to recall our European Cup semi-final against Benfica.

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The legendary double-winning winger admits that our narrow defeat over two legs to the Portuguese giants - including one of the game’s all-time greats, Eusebio - is the one regret of the ‘glory, glory years’ under Bill Nicholson.

Benfica won the home leg 3-1 before a thrilling second leg at the Lane in April, 1962 that ended 2-1 for an aggregate score of 4-3 in Benfica’s favour.

Back at the Stadium of Light for the second time in four years - he was a guest of Eusebio when we took part in the Eusebio Cup in 2010 - Cliff, to this day, feels we would have lifted the European Cup if we’d have got through that tie.

“We were good enough to have won the European Cup,” he said.

“Just thinking about it, over the two games, we didn’t get the run of the ball, decisions went against us and we all knew at the time that whoever won that semi-final was going to win the European Cup.

“Benfica, who were the holders, just had the edge and they went on to retain the trophy. They were a special side, great defensively and then had a player like Eusebio up front.

“Real Madrid were ageing a little, the likes of Di Stefano and Puskas, and that’s how it turned out. Benfica won 5-3 in the final. I’m sure we would have done the same.

"It was an amazing period for our club, the glory, glory nights. We wore the all-white kit in Europe, the fans were right behind us and it was a wonderful time. Of course, after losing against Benfica, we went on to win the Cup Winners Cup the next season, the first British side to do so. That was special.”