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Europe's elite

Man United will join an exclusive group of clubs if they win the Europa League

Despite missing out on the Champions League this season, it could still turn out to be a history-making year for Red Devils

THERE could still be some history made for Manchester United with Europa League success this season.

Jose Mourinho admitted the club are, obviously, disappointed to be missing out on the Champions League — but keen to win “the one trophy they have never won.”

15 May 1991: Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson holds the trophy aloft after the European Cup Winners Cup final against Barcelona at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam, Holland. Manchester United won the match 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Simon Bruty/Allsport

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Sir Alex Ferguson with the Cup Winners’ Cup trophy in Rotterdam in 1991

Victory in the final in Stockholm, would make United only the fifth side to win the European Cup, Uefa Cup/Europa League and the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup — which the Red Devils won in 1991.

Only four teams have managed to win all three, and one is English.

The likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool will never be able to complete the feat as they never won the Cup Winners’ Cup, while for Manchester City, Tottenham, West Ham, Everton and even Aberdeen the possibility still exists.


22 MAY 1996 ROMA: Antonio Conte of FC Juventus (L) celebrates at the end of the Champions League Final match between Juventus and Ajax

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Juventus celebrate winning the Champions League under Marcello Lippi in 1996

The Italian giants were the first to win all three trophies when they beat Liverpool in the 1985 European Cup final.

Juve’s first continental honour was the Uefa Cup won in 1977 — and they then won the trophy again in 1990 and 1993.

Their sole Cup Winners’ Cup success came the year before they won the European Cup.

Sport, Football, UEFA Cup Final, Second Leg, Turin, 19th May 1993, Juventus 3 v Borussia Dortmund 0 (Juventus win 6-1 on aggregate), Juventus captain Roberto Baggio holds the trophy aloft (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

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Roberto Baggio holds aloft the Uefa Cup trophy Juventus won again in 1993

Remarkably, Giovanni Trapattoni was manager for four of the five successes.

Dino Zoff was in charge for the 1990 Uefa Cup victory, while the former Republic of Ireland boss won the trophy the following year with Inter Milan.

Under Trapattoni, they also claimed the 1984 Uefa European Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup in 1985.

Juventus captain Gaetano Scirea (right) about to receive the trophy after the Juventus v Porto European Cup Winners Cup Final played at the St Jakob Stadium in Basel on the 16th May 1984. Juventus won the match 2-1. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

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Gaetano Scirea received the Cup Winners’ Cup trophy Juventus won in 1984

Even more remarkably, they won the Intertoto Cup under Carlo Ancelotti in 1999.

Marcello Lippi was in charge for the Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup successes of 1996.

The ultimate European club?


Football, UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final, Athens, Greece, 15th May 1987, Ajax Amsterdam 1 v Lokomotiv Leipzig 0, Ajax captain, and winning goalscorer, Marco Van Basten holds the trophy aloft (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

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Marco van Basten lifts the Cup Winners’ Cup trophy up high after Ajax’s 1987 win

The inventors of Total Football were the next team to achieve it when Louis van Gaal’s men won the Uefa Cup in 1992.

Ajax revolutionised the game in the 1970s when, under first Rinus Michels and then Setfan Kovacs, they developed a system where every player was comfortable in every position — and they won the European Cup for three years running from 1971-1973.

The undoubted star was the legendary Johan Cruyff.

Sport, Football, UEFA Cup Final Second Leg, Amsterdam, Holland, 13th May 1992, Ajax 0 v Torino 0 (Ajax 2 v Torino 2 on aggregate, Ajax win on away goals), The victorious Ajax team celebrate with the trophy (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

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Ajax’s 1992 Uefa Cup victory elevated them to the status of Euro super club

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MAY 24: AJAX AMSTERDAM - AC MAILAND 1:0, Wien; Champions League Finale 1995 in Wien; AJAX AMSTERDAM CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SIEGER 1995 mit Pokal (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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The young Ajax side of 1995 are crowned European champions in Vienna

And he was the manager when the Amsterdam giants beat Lokomotive Leipzig to win the 1987 Cup Winners’ Cup.

Van Gaal won the 1995 Champions League as Ajax boss with one of the greatest group of youngsters to grace the game — they went on to win the Uefa Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup that year.

While they also won the latter in 1974 and the former in 1972.

Bayern Munich

UNSPECIFIED - MAY 15: UEFA CUP FINALE 1996; GIRONDINS BORDEAUX - BAYERN MUENCHEN 1:3; BAYERN MUENCHEN - TEAM mit Pokal:; Thomas HELMER/Mehmet SCHOLL/Alexander ZICKLER/Lothar MATTHAEUS/Ciriaco SFORZA/Thomas STRUNZ/Markus BABBEL (Photo by Gunnar Berning/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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An ecstatic Lothar Matthaus lifts aloft the Uefa Cup for Bayern in 1996

Franz Beckenbauer completed their trio in 1996 as he led the Bavarians to Uefa Cup victory over Bordeaux.

While the German legend also started it with Cup Winners’ Cup final victory over Rangers in 1967.

And Beckenbauer was also captain of the Bayern sides which won the three European Cups immediately after Ajax.

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 23: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 00/01, FINALE, Mailand; FC BAYERN MUENCHEN - FC VALENCIA 6:5 n.E.; TORWART Oliver KAHN/BAYERN (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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Oliver Kahn kisses the Champions League trophy Bayern Munich won in 2001

(GERMANY OUT) Europapokal der Pokalsieger, Endspiel vor 70.000 Zuschauern in N?rnberg: FC Bayern M?nchen - Glasgow Rangers 1:0 n.V. (0:0) - Spieler und Trainer Tschik Cajkowski bei der Siegerehrung mit dem Pokal v.l.: Brenninger, Nafziger, Sepp Maier, Cajkowski (Photo by Schirner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

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Bayern Munich beat Rangers won win Cup Winners’ Cup in 1967

Ottmar Hitzfeld returned the glory days to the club with Champions League victory in 2001, before Jupp Heynckes’ side won it for a fifth time in 2013.

Pep Guardiola brought them their first Uefa Super Cup that same year.

They have been crowned world champions in 1976, 2001 and 2013.


(GERMANY OUT) 05.07.1966Sportler, Fussball Italien (FC Chelsea)l?uft mit dem Pokal eine Ehrenrunde,nachdem er das Finale im Europapokal derPokalsieger gegen den VfB Stuttgart (1:0)gewann (Photo by Oliver Behrendt/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

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Gianfanco Zola was Chelsea’s Cup Winners’ Cup hero in 1998

Rafa Benitez is the unpopular man to complete this feat.

Dave Sexton led the Blues to a memorable Cup Winners’ Cup victory over Real Madrid in 1971 before Gianfranco Zola’s goal a minute after coming off the bench repeated the trick 27 years later.

Major success seemed a distant dream for the Blues until Roman Abramovich arrived with his billions in 2003.

Chelsea players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea FC on May 19, 2012 at the Fussball Arena stadium in Munich. Chelsea won 4-3 in the penalty phase..AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

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Chelsea finally got their hands on the Champions League with victory in 2012

Frank Lampard of Chelsea lifts the UEFA Europa League trophy (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Rafa Benitez led Chelsea to Europa League success in Amsterdam in 2013

And it took Chelsea nine years to achieve the Russian’s Champions League desire.

Roberto Di Matteo was the man at the helm when a fifth different English named was carved onto the old trophy.

He was sacked just seven months later, however, after elimination in the group stage.

But replacement, Benitez, took advantage of the blip to lead the club to Europa League glory in 2013.