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English Teams that played at Gamper Cup

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With Arsenal visiting the Camp Nou for the Gamper Trophy match this Sunday (8.00pm CEST), we take a look back at previous appearances by English sides at the competition. And we unearth a number of curious tales involving dodgy penalty shootouts, Maradona’s shirt and a historic first meeting between two countries that had just been at war.

1981: Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town was the first English team to play in the Gamper. Managed by the late Bobby Robson, who would go on to sit on the bench at the Camp Nou, the Tractor Boys had just enjoyed their finest season ever, coming second in the English league and winning the UEFA Cup. However, they wouldn’t get to meet Barça as they were eliminated by FC Cologne in the semi-finals, and the Germans, with Toni Schumacheroutstanding in goal, went on to inflict an embarrassing 4-0 defeat on Barça in the final. Ipswich lost 2-1 to Vasco da Gama of Brazil in the third-place playoff.

1982: Manchester City

Controversy reigned as City, with an inspired Joe Corrigan in goal, beat defending Gamper champions FC Cologne on penalties in the first semi-final. Chris Jones scored for the English side in the shootout, despite the Germans rightly complaining that he was ineligible as he had been substituted during the match.

In front of 110,000 people eager to see new signing Diego Maradona in action for the first time at the Camp Nou, Barça’s game against Brazilian side Internacional went to penalties too. The Argentinian was frankly disappointing, and despite scoring wasn’t much better in the third and fourth place match against Cologne.

Internacional beat Man City 3-1 in the final to become the only ever non-European team to lift the Gamper trophy.

1983: FC Barcelona 2 (Marcos 2) Nottingham Forest 0

After winning back-to-back European Cups, Brian Clough’s legendary team was nearing the end of its golden era. They came to the Camp Nou to meet a Barça for whom this time, Diego Maradona was far more inspired. In fact, Clough was allegedly so impressed with the Argentinian’s dazzling display in a 2-0 victory that after the game his only order to his players was to “get that man’s shirt.” Apparently, Kenny Swain was the man to get the honor.

The game was the semi-final. Barça went on to beat Borussia Dortmund in the final, while Forest lost to Anderlecht in the game for third place. Curiously, they would lose to the Belgians again in that season’s UEFA Cup semi-finals.

1984: Aston Villa

For the fourth summer in a row, an English team participated. Villa, who had won the European Cup two years earlier, lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich in one semi-final, while Barça, with Terry Venables as their new manager, thumped Boca Juniors 9-1, so once again there would be no meeting between the Catalans and their English guests.

This set up an intriguing encounter for third and fourth place. Villa and Boca were to meet in the first footballing encounter between Englishmen and Argentinians since the Falklands War. Both sets of players went to great extremes to show that sport and friendship mean much more than war. The game, a 2-0 win for Boca, failed to live up to the hype and was a snooze-fest. Directly afterward, Barça beat Bayern 3-1 and collected the trophy.

1986: Tottenham Hotspur

Once again the English guests at the Gamper missed out on the chance to play Barça. Spurs were beaten on penalties by PSV Eindhoven in one semi-final, while Barça, featuring a star new signing who would go on to play for Tottenham himself, Gary Lineker, won 3-1 against AC Milan (featuring the late, great Ray Wilkins).

Barça beat PSV 1-0 in the final, while Spurs beat Milan 2-1 to claim third place.

2009: FC Barcelona 0 Manchester City 1 (Petrov)

After five appearances from English teams in six years, it would be 23 years before the only other visit, by which time the format had changed to a single game.

Manchester City, back among the English elite though still seeking their first league title since 1968, arrived with a former Barça player at the helm, Welshman Mark Hughes.

After winning the famous treble the year before, Pep Guardiola fielded a largely experimental side, the highlight being Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming on to make his Camp Nou debut at half-time. But despite magic from the Swede and Leo Messi, they could find no answer to Martin Petrov’s 28th minute goal and City became the first and only English side to lift the trophy.