But it has now been revealed for the first time how a prankster stole the trophy and drove it 100 miles, before surrendering it to police in
The story came to light at a party for past and present police at West Bar police station, as colleagues reminisced about the time Aston Villa won the cup in 1982.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: "The players had been celebrating at a pub in the West Midlands and, as the night wore on, the players had allegedly become more boisterous.
"A young man at the venue with his girlfriend took exception to their behaviour and asked them to show some respect for other customers. His request was allegedly met with more abuse and so the man decided to play a prank on them.
"As no one seemed to be paying attention to the European Cup, he decided to pick it up and see how far he could walk away with it before anyone noticed.
"He actually made it to his car and drove away, heading for Sheffield, a place he knew from his student days.
"Once in Sheffield, he immediately rang police and asked if he could surrender himself and the coveted cup at West Bar, which he did – giving staff an unbelievable photo opportunity. The man was arrested on suspicion of theft and passed to West Midlands Police.
"South Yorkshire Police's first attempt to contact West Midlands Police was met with, 'sorry, we can't talk, we have a major incident running,' and they hung up. The major incident was the theft of the European Cup."
South Yorkshire Police has also now revealed a photograph of the cup safely in the custody of police officers Arnie Clegg, Karl Price,
Graham Wragg and Paul Monfredi at West Bar police station.