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Oct 25, 2012

Champs to chumps, homegrown heroes

Norman Hubbard is ESPN FC's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

I know, off the top of my head, both Nottingham Forest and Manchester United won the European Cup and were then relegated from the top division sometime after. Has this happened to any other teams in Europe? What about UEFA Cup/Fairs Cup winners? Barbarossa from San Antonio, Texas, asked

Six years after winning the 1968 European Cup, Manchester United were relegated to what was then the Second Division in England, although Tommy Docherty's team returned to the top flight after a single season. Nottingham Forest, European Cup winners in 1979 and 1980, have only been in the Premier League for four of the last 20 seasons (including the current campaign). When they went down to League One in 2005, they became the team to play third-tier football after being continental champions. There is, however, a third English club to be relegated after winning the European Cup: Aston Villa, who beat Bayern Munich in the 1982 final and went down five years later before Graham Taylor restored them to the old First Division. Theirs is the swiftest fall from grace for strictly footballing reasons.

Outside England, only two European Cup winners have gone down, and neither as a result of the league table. Marseille, Champions League winners in 1993, were relegated because of a bribery scandal in France, returning to Ligue 1 in 1996. More recently, Juventus (1985 and 1996 winners) were demoted in Italy in 2006 because of the Calciopoli scandal, coming back up at the first time of asking.

As you might expect, more UEFA Cup or Fairs Cup winners have gone down. They include Juventus (1977, 1990, 1993), while two former winners have come back after relegation to win the trophy again. The most recent UEFA Cup winners to go down a division were Parma, in 2008. The dates below only refer to their demotion from the top flight in their respective countries, but the full list is:

Valencia, winners in 1962 and 1963 (and again in 2004); relegated in 1986.

Real Zaragoza, winners in 1964; relegated in 2008.

Ferencvaros, winners in 1965; relegated in 2007.

Leeds United, winners in 1968 and 1971; relegated from England's top flight in both 1982 and 2004.

Newcastle United, winners in 1969; relegated in 1978, 1989 and 2009.

Tottenham Hotspur, winners in 1972 (and again in 1984); relegated in 1977.

Borussia Monchengladbach, winners in 1975 and 1979; relegated in 1999 and 2007.

Juventus, winners in 1977, 1990 and 1993; relegated in 2006.

Eintracht Frankfurt, winners in 1980; relegated in 1996, 2001, 2003 and 2011.

Ipswich Town, winners in 1981; relegated in 1986, 1995 and 2002.

Napoli, winners in 1989; relegated in 1998 and 2001.

Parma, winners in 1995 and 1999; relegated in 2008.

In the 1967 European Cup final, Glasgow Celtic beat Inter Milan with a team full of homegrown players. Has any other club done that? Patrick Senesie from Freetown, Sierra Leone, asked

The Lisbon Lions, as they became known, beat Internazionale in the 1967 European Cup final with a team who were all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park - indeed, apart from Bobby Lennox, born in Ayrshire, all came from within around ten miles of Celtic's ground, either in Glasgow or nearby Lanarkshire. Whether they were all homegrown is a moot point, however: manager Jock Stein brought Bertie Auld back to Celtic, where he had started his career, from Birmingham, while goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson played for Queens Park, Lanark, Newcastle and Hibernian before signing for Celtic and inside-forward Willie Wallace was at Stenhousemuir, Raith and Hearts.

What a study of other European champions shows, however, is how special it was that 11 players born comparatively close together - nine of whom coming through the club's youth system - became the best side in Europe.

In one respect, it is one of six times that the European Cup (though never the Champions League) was won by a team comprising players eligible for one country. We can discount the first, in 1956, however because two of the Spain internationals in the Real Madrid side, Alfredo Di Stefano and Hector Rial, were naturalised Argentinians and Di Stefano had played international football for his homeland as well as his adopted country.

That leaves the Benfica teams of 1961 and 1962, plus the Real side of 1966 and Steaua Bucharest's 1986 side. The Portuguese champions, however, featured players born in Portuguese East Africa, as it was then known, or Mozambique, as it is now called. Alberto da Costa Pereira, Mario Coluna and Eusebio were from modern day Mozambique, while Jose Aguas and Joaquim Santana, who were born in Angola, could also be discounted.

Real's class of 1966 were all born in Spain, but only three of the side started their career at the club and their team included Basques and Galicians. The Steaua side of 1986 are the only team since Celtic to come from the same country and win the European Cup but only two of the starting 11, Miodrag Belodidici and Gavril Balint, started their careers at Steaua, and Belodidici was an ethnic Serb who was born near the border with Yugoslavia.

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