Leeds United kept off air as they lifted the Fairs Cup - on this day

Champions: Leeds United captain Billy Bremner holds the Fairs Cup aloft as he celebrates with, from left, Johnny Giles, Allan Clarke, Mick Bates and Mick Jones. Picture: PAChampions: Leeds United captain Billy Bremner holds the Fairs Cup aloft as he celebrates with, from left, Johnny Giles, Allan Clarke, Mick Bates and Mick Jones. Picture: PA
Champions: Leeds United captain Billy Bremner holds the Fairs Cup aloft as he celebrates with, from left, Johnny Giles, Allan Clarke, Mick Bates and Mick Jones. Picture: PA | PA Wire
When Leeds United won just their second and to date last European trophy, only the 42,483 in Elland Road were allowed to see how much their team had learned about continental football.

The Whites had struck a £10,000 deal for the BBC to show the 1971 Fairs Cup final second leg against Juventus, but the Football Association were having none of it.

“There is no live showing of the Fairs Cup final,” they insisted. “Also, there will be no highlights of the match televised on Thursday evening.

“One live football match on television a week is enough.”

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The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, to give it its full title, had evolved from friendlies between teams holding international trade fairs, initially on a one city, one team basis.

After 1968, it became known as “the runners-up Cup” and in 1971 it was about to become the UEFA Cup.

As far as Leeds manager Don Revie, a winner in 1968, was concerned it was no meaningless bauble.

“When you play sides of the calibre of Dynamo Dresden, Liverpool and Juventus, how can it be easy?” he argued.

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“This was a match two degrees better, at least in class, from the previous night’s European Cup final,” wrote Geoffrey Green of The Times. “Ajax, the winners of that trophy, would not have won this one.

“The football was of a higher, sophisticated standard.”

It was a cat-and-mouse encounter, Leeds having put in the hard yards in Turin after the initial game was abandoned after 51 goalless minutes played in a downpour.

With the rain not easing, it was starting to look as if both legs might be played in Leeds.

“If we are going to win the cup, let’s win it right,” insisted Revie and the sun came out on the Friday set aside for another try to allow a see-saw game.

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Paul Madeley, pushed up to the left wing to replace Eddie Gray, injured days earlier, cancelled out Roberto Bettega’s opener with what he called “a long-range speculative daisy-cutter” which took a deflection.

Fabio Capello beat Gary Sprake from distance, but within five minutes of Leeds’s scorer being stretchered off, Mick Bates celebrated just his second goal for the club. “I just hit it and hoped,” he said.

“They controlled the game and gave a world-class display,” said a proud Revie, whose side had, crucially, scored in all nine European ties of the last two years.

Leeds were quickest out of the blocks in the second leg, and continued their tactic of hoisting high crosses. Jack Charlton headed Billy Bremner’s 12th-minute free-kick down and Allan Clarke swept home.

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The world’s most expensive footballer, £440,000 Pietro Anastasi, had been wasteful in the first leg and when he latched onto a fine pass to score his 10th goal of that season’s competition, Leeds shut the game down.

“We declined the invitation to commit Fairs Cup suicide and sat back ourselves waiting for them to come,” explained Bremner. “Six seasons in Europe have taught us plenty.”

Green praised Leeds’s “open, economical style based on experience, solidity, team spirit and a tactical wider use of the length and breadth of the field.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Phil Brown called Terry Cooper and Johnny Giles “astonishingly good”, Juve coach Cestmír Vycpalek calling the former “the best No 3 (left-back) in the world today.”

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At full-time it was the men in Juve’s blue change shirts lifting the trophy, but only because the sides swapped at the end of a 1-1 draw, leaving Leeds winners on away goals. But the trophy did not spend long in the Elland Road cabinet.

UEFA set up a September play-off between the holders and the first and most frequent winners, Barcelona, in the Nou Camp.

Revie said Leeds “really want to win this cup” but with 10 games that month, his team-sheet said otherwise. With Clarke, Madeley, Cooper, Bates, Gray, Terry Yorath and Mick Jones injured, Nigel Davey, Rod Belfitt, Chris Galvin and 19-year-old Joe Jordan started. The latter scored, but only between goals from Teofilio Duenas.

Editor’s note: First and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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