On This Day in Football History – 26 May: Man Utd’s Treble Heroics, ‘The Greatest End to a Season Ever’ & More

players of Manchester United jubilate with the tro
players of Manchester United jubilate with the tro | ERIC CABANIS/Getty Images

Champions League final season always throws up some amazing memories, and 26 May has seen more than its fair share of those.

Plenty of sides have reached European glory on this day in history, although there’s probably one which sticks out a little bit more than most…

Without further ado, let’s take a look at what went down on 26 May in history.

Starting with the birthday of one of the most influential figures in football history, Manchester United legend Matt Busby was born on this day in 1909.

Busby led United to five First Division titles, two of which came after he rebuilt the squad following the Munich air disaster, but his greatest moment came as he lifted the European Cup in 1968, sealing his place as one of the club’s true heroes.

Aston Villa lifted the only European Cup in their history thanks to a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in 1982, but the hero of this game was not goalscorer Peter Withe.

Instead, it was reserve goalkeeper, 23-year-old Nigel Spink, who stole the headlines. Thrust into the action after just ten minutes following an injury to Jimmy Rimmer, Spink pulled off countless outstanding saves to keep the prolific Germans out – and it was just his second senior appearance!

One of the most prolific strikers in England history, a young Gary Lineker made his first appearance for England in a 1-1 draw with Scotland in the 1984 British Home Championship.

The 23-year-old was given 18 minutes at the end of the game, and he became the first-choice striker a little over a year later, firing 48 goals in 80 appearances before hanging up his boots in 1992.

The end to the 1988/89 First Division season is often touted as one of the greatest endings to a season ever, and rightly so.

Arsenal had fallen three points behind Liverpool heading into the final day of the season, when the two sides just so happened to face off. Arsenal’s inferior goal difference left them needing a 2-0 win at Anfield (something had not happened for over three years) if they were to win the title. You’ll never guess what happened.

Arsenal held a 1-0 lead heading into the dying embers, so Liverpool were confident of winning the title. However, John Barnes declined to run the ball into the corner and eventually lost it, allowing Arsenal to run down the other end, net a second with just one minute left on the clock and somehow win the title.

After an underwhelming campaign, AC Milan said goodbye to legendary manager Arrigo Sacchi following a 0-0 draw with Parma on this day in 1991.

He departed having won one Serie A title and two European Cups during his four-year spell at the club and is widely heralded as one of the greatest bosses of all time.

In what was the first Champions League final after the tournament’s rebranding, Marseille became the first French side to win Europe’s biggest prize with a 1-0 win over AC Milan, which also happened to be Marco van Basten’s final match.

Marseille may have been the first winners, but they weren’t actually allowed to defend their trophy. They were found guilty of match fixing during the 1992/93 Ligue 1 season and banned from competing in Europe as a result.

There have been plenty of European finals on this day in history, but none come anywhere close to matching the importance of this one.

After winning both the Premier League and FA Cup, Manchester United sealed a historic treble with a dramatic 2-1 win over Bayern Munich, who were chasing the treble themselves.

Trailing 1-0 in the 90th minute, United grabbed a late equaliser through Teddy Sheringham, before going on to bag a 93rd-minute winner through Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, leaving Peter Schmeichel cartwheeling with joy.

José Mourinho won the first Champions League trophy of his career as he spectacularly led his Porto side to glory against Monaco in 2004.

Just a few months after he announced himself by sprinting down the Old Trafford touchline, Mourinho proved to the world why he was the greatest up-and-coming manager around, and it was Chelsea who won the race for his signature that summer.

Huddersfield Town came out on top against Sheffield United in the League One playoff final in 2012, but only after a dramatic 22-penalty shoot-out.

Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies netted the crucial penalty which, after United counterpart Steve Simonsen fired his effort over the bar, proved to be the winner.

Real Madrid won their third consecutive Champions League title in 2018 by beating Liverpool in a game which is remembered for both outstanding and atrocious football.

A collision with Sergio Ramos forced Mohamed Salah off early, before goalkeeper Loris Karius forgot how to play football and gifted Real two shocking goals. However, the highlight was obviously Gareth Bale’s overhead kick, which could well be the greatest goal in the history of the competition.

David BeckhamDavid Beckham
Manchester United ’99 Legends v FC Bayern Legends | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

A team of Manchester United legends gathered to face a lineup of Bayern icons to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their historic treble win in 2019.

The Treble Reunion ended in a 5-0 win for United, with David Beckham rolling back the years and dominating the game. Many fans even wanted to see him given a contract with the first team, and it’s not hard to see why.

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