How Algeria's Madjer led Porto to their first European title

How Algeria's Madjer led Porto to their first European title
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Published April 15th, 2015 - 16:37 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Madjer lifts the European trophy
Madjer lifts the European trophy

By Brian Oliver

A sensational goal that lives on to this day, the assist for the winner, and the starring role in one of the most amazing comebacks in the European Cup. That was Rabah Madjer’s contribution to the greatest night in the history of FC Porto, when they defeated Bayern Munich in Vienna to become champions of Europe for the first time in 1987.

It all happened in a few minutes near the end of the game – and only after Artur Jorge, Porto’s manager, had made the second of his two substitutions in the 66th minute.

“I felt free then and I rebelled a little bit because I knew I couldn’t go off,” Madjer told Goal. “We had been playing very cautiously and I was like a defensive midfielder for half the game, in a 4-5-1 formation with just Paulo Futre on his own in attack.

“I felt liberated when Artur Jorge had made his substitutions. It was time to take a bit of a risk. Bayern were no better than us so I ignored the tactics and moved further forward. I started to cause Bayern trouble, had two shots and one of them hit the bar.

“We began to cause confusion in the Bayern defence and that’s how the first goal came.”

With 13 minutes to play and Bayern leading 1-0, Porto’s Brazilian substitute, Juary, crossed into the six-yard area - but the ball went behind Madjer, who had his back to goal. Instinctively, the Algerian backheeled it into the net. The Bayern defenders looked to the heavens in disbelief.

“It’s hard to explain what goes through your head at such a moment,” said Madjer. “Your body reacts before your brain does. You’ve done a movement so many times in training it just happens before you think. Good technical players seem to do it by instinct. That’s what happened. It was a crazy goal.

“Two months later I did it again, I scored an even better backheel when we beat Belenenses 7-1 in the league. You can see it on YouTube!

“I still get asked about that goal in the final so many times. Which foot did you use, show us how you did it, that sort of thing. The goal still lives today, 28 years later.”

It was probably the most famous backheeled goal in football history. From that point on, Arsene Wenger said recently, any such strike in France was called ‘a Madjer’.

Bayern had been clear favourites to win the game. “I was rooming with our Polish goalkeeper, Jozef Mlnarczyk, and he was a bit stressed the night before the game, a bit panicked,” said Madjer.

“Everybody thought Bayern would beat us. They said we had been lucky with the draw, that we had no chance. Their line-up was scary. The first name you saw on the team-sheet was one of the world’s best goalkeepers, Jean-Marie Pfaff.”

Pfaff had played in the World Cup semi-finals for Belgium the year before, and ahead of him were two men who would lift the World Cup with West Germany in 1990. Lothar Matthaus captained the Germans at Italia 90 and Andreas Brehme scored the winning goal in the final.

Bayern had two other members of that Italia 90 squad, and other big names in Michael Rummenigge and Dieter Hoeness. “But I told Jozef we hadn’t come this far to lose,” said Madjer. “I said ‘Don’t get scared at the last minute. This is our big chance.’ I even predicted that we would win 2-1. And as soon as we walked out on to the pitch, the pressure disappeared. We always believed in ourselves.”

Three minutes after his famous goal Madjer crossed for Juary to score the winner.

“We flew back to Porto overnight on a private plane and when we landed there were so many people, the place exploded. It took us hours to get out of the airport - it meant so much to the city that we had finally joined the elite, we were now one of the most prestigious clubs in Europe.

“The rivalry between Porto and Benfica back then was a bit like Barcelona and Real Madrid now. We were against the team from the capital city, Benfica had a very good early history in the European Cup but we didn’t, our supporters were very passionate… we were the Barcelona of the time.”

What of his season’s quarter-final, with the first leg in Porto on Wednesday – do Porto have anyone capable of a “crazy goal” this time?

“It looks very, very tough for Porto,” said Madjer. “Ricardo Quaresma has the quality to do something special, and they have a very talented Algerian too! Yacine Brahimi is a very creative player, has great agility with his feet and he can destabilise Bayern. Jackson [Martinez] is playing well too, and [Cristian] Tello and Danilo.

“But Bayern Munich are on another planet – look what they did to Shakhtar in the last round [7-0 at home]. Porto must manage the home game very carefully. I hope to be at the game for an Algerian television station and I hope they can do it. But it looks so difficult.”

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