World Football: The 10 Most Unlikely European Champions in History

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 30, 2012

World Football: The 10 Most Unlikely European Champions in History

0 of 10

    Take a wild guess as to which club inspired this slideshow you are about to view.

    If you guessed the Chelsea team that just won the Champions League title on May 19th, then you guessed correctly.

    These 10 clubs took the club football landscape by storm in their surprise victories and will go down in their club's history as some of the most successful sides ever.

    For most of the clubs on the list, their success in the European Cup, or Champions League—as it was renamed before the 1992-93 season—for others they are established clubs that were not expected to win that season like Chelsea.

1978-79 Nottingham Forest

1 of 10

    Nottingham Forest fans will always remember the glory days of Brian Clough.

    Clough brought Forest from the Second Division in England to the title game of the European Cup in a matter of three years.

    The English club won the Second Division in the 1976-77 season, followed by the First Division title the next season, and then achieved European glory the season after that.

    Forest blew out AEK Athens and Grasshopper before edging out Cologne in the semifinal.

    In the final against Malmo, Trevor Francis scored the only goal of the match in the 45th minute to lead the club to European glory.

1979-80 Nottingham Forest

2 of 10

    What is even more shocking than Nottingham Forest winning the European Cup is the club winning a second straight continental title.

    The club's second European success came at the Bernabeu in Madrid over Hamburg.

    The result was the same as the year before, a 1-0 win, but this time around John Robertson was the goalscorer for Forest.

1987-88 PSV Eindhoven

3 of 10

    The late 1980's PSV clubs were one of Guus Hiddink's first managerial successes.

    The famous manager took charge of PSV in March of 1987, the job was his first managerial position after being an assistant at the club for three years.

    What is more amazing about this situation is that PSV did not win a game after the quarterfinals.

    The Dutch club won their quarterfinal and semifinal match ups on away goals over Bordeaux and Real Madrid.

    In the final against Benfica, they went to penalties and won 6-5 in a shootout at the Neckarstadion in Stuttgart.

1985-86 Steaua Bucharest

4 of 10

    Steaua Bucharest became the first Eastern European club to win the European Cup during the 1985-86 season.

    The Romanian club faced a tough scenario going into the final in Seville, as they faced Spanish giants Barcelona.

    After regulation time, the score was still tied at zero and the match went to penalties where Steaua keeper Helmuth Duckadam saved all four Barca penalties as the Romanians won the shootout, 2-0.

    The man who was the hero of the final, Duckadam is now serving as the club's president as they look to win their first domestic title since the 2005-06 season.

1981-82 Aston Villa

5 of 10

    If you ask many people if Aston Villa has ever won a European Cup title, they will most likely answer, "no," but they are wrong.

    The Villains were champions of Europe in the 1981-82 season.

    What was even more impressive about the club's success that season is that manager Ron Saunders quit the club due to a disagreement with management before the quarterfinal match against Dynamo Kyiv.

    Saunders' assistant Tony Barton took over the club for the rest of the season and guided the Villains to the European Cup title with a 1-0 over Bayern Munich in Rotterdam.

2004-05 Liverpool

6 of 10

    Liverpool's comeback in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final is enough to warrant a place on this list.

    Under the direction of new manager Rafa Benitez the Reds took down Bayern Munich, Juventus and Chelsea in the knockout round on the way to the final in Istanbul versus AC Milan.

    The rest they say is history.

    Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Spicer and Xabi Alonso scored second half goals to destroy a three goal deficit.

    The match went into penalties and the Reds won the shootout 3-2 to become champions of Europe for the fifth time.

2003-04 Porto

7 of 10

    A year before Liverpool's success, Jose Mourinho made his mark on European football with Porto.

    Porto had won the UEFA Cup the season before and took the UEFA Champions League by storm in the 2003-04 season.

    In the knockout round, the Portuguese club beat perennial powers Manchester United and Lyon before beating Deporitvo La Coruna in the semifinals.

    In the final, Porto dominated Monaco and won 3-0 with goals from Carlos Alberto, Deco and Dmitri Alenichev to hoist the trophy in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

1966-67 Celtic

8 of 10

    The 1966-67 Celtic squad were the first champions from the British Isles, as they had a magical season that resulted in five trophy wins.

    The most important trophy was the European Cup, as they beat Inter at the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon.

    Steve Chalmers scored the goal that put the Glasgow club ahead in the 85th minute and they eventually won by 2-1 score.

    The win by Celtic was the first and only time that a Scottish club won the Champions League, and it may be quite some time before that happens again.

1990-91 Red Star Belgrade

9 of 10

    Red Star Belgrade were the second winners of the European Cup to come from Eastern Europe.

    The Serbian club rolled through the knockout stage with results that included a 6-0 quarterfinal win over Dynamo Dresden.

    In the final against Marseille, Red Star had to win the title on penalties after playing to a scoreless draw in regulation.

    Although the club fell on hard times after their European triumph, they are back in the news again as they took home the Serbian Cup this season.

2011-12 Chelsea

10 of 10

    How could I forget about this season's Chelsea squad.

    Chelsea were a club in disarray, and after poor performances in the Premier League caused the firing of Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto di Matteo was appointed as interim manager.

    The Blues started their knockout round with an amazing comeback over Napoli by winning in extra time in the second leg.

    After taking down Benfica and Barcelona, the Blues marched on to face Bayern Munich in Munich for the final.

    After being outplayed all match long, Didier Drogba scored a late equalizer and then the final penalty to give Chelsea their first UEFA Champions League title.