IFK began March 1982 on the cusp of bankruptcy. So dire was their financial situation, in fact, that they had to borrow money from their supporters’ club just to fund a trip to Valencia for a UEFA Cup quarter-final – and an expected thrashing.
But that thrashing didn’t transpire. Instead, IFK managed a 2-2 draw and followed that up two weeks later by winning the return leg 2-0 in Gothenburg. Thereafter, after surprisingly edging Kaiserslautern on aggregate after extra time, Sven-Goran Eriksson’s troops found themselves in the final.
Yet after navigating several towering hurdles, IFK now faced what was surely an insurmountable one: a Hamburg side who were in the midst of the most successful spell in their history – one in which they would win three league titles, achieve six successive top-two finishes, lift the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and finish European Cup runners-up in 1980 and winners three years later.
Ditmar Jakobs, Manfred Kaltz, Felix Magath, Lars Bastrup, Horst Hrubesch and Co expectedly had the better of the play in the first leg of the decider at the Ullevi stadium, but unexpectedly, thanks to Tord Holmgren’s solitary late goal, it was IFK who had a slender lead to take to the Volksparkstadion 30 years ago to this Saturday.
Second leg shock
But if an atomic percentage believed the Swedes could defend it in Germany at kick-off, a few more did on 26 minutes when 20-year-old forward Dan Corneliusson’s exquisitely-executed volley put them 1-0 up on the night.
Ernst Happel’s team took the game to their visitors thereafter, but just past the hour mark, a superb tackle from Holmgren stopped a Hamburg attack and set Torbjorn Nilsson on a charge. It was one that took the veteran striker from the halfway line to the edge of the hosts’ penalty area, from where he buried a left-foot strike into the bottom corner of Uli Stein’s net.
Just two minutes later, Hamburg’s defence was again unable to deal with the pace and power of Nilsson, who this time was felled in the area. Stig Fredriksson coolly dispatched the resulting penalty to seal IFK a magnificent 3-0 victory on the night, a 4-0 win on aggregate, and the UEFA Cup.
Eriksson, among other achievements, went on to lead Benfica to the European Cup final, Lazio to only their second Scudetto, and Roma and Sampdoria to trophies. He also masterminded England's stunning 5-1 win in Germany in a 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ qualifier. Yet those titles, and that victory on German soil, pale in comparison to what Eriksson and his IFK underdogs achieved on 19 May 1982.