On the way to Manchester United becoming the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968 they knocked out Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
In typical manner Real acted with class and style. Bernabeu spoke after the second leg when a dramatic 3-3 secured United’s place in the Wembley final of 1968. He said, ‘If it had to be anybody I was glad it was them.’ Then, after United‘s victory over Benfica, the first telegram waiting for them in the changing room was addressed from Madrid. It simply stated: ‘Congratulation to our friends in Manchester. From your friends in Madrid!’
However, the greatest game between the two clubs, for me, personally, was a game I was at. The 2003 match Champions league encounter: Manchester United 4 Real Madrid 3. Beaten 3-1 in the Bernabeu by an out of this world inspired Zinidane Zidane, United fought tooth and nail to claw back the deficit, only to keep being caught out by the deadly finishing of the Brazilian centre-forward Ronaldo. Everytime we got close and sensed a comeback might be on. Bang! He scored again.
This was the game that first gave me the idea for the book. The substitution of Ronaldo in the second half. What occurred was astonishing, this guy had all but knocked us out on his own and the entire stadium rose as one to applaud him off? Later at home I watched again on television and witnessed Sir Bobby Charlton sat next to Alfredo Di Stefano. Both were looking on in sheer awe at what occurred in that 63rd minute. I thought to myself, where did that come from?’ Hence the book: A Tale of Two Cities: Manchester & Madrid 1957-1968
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