Football: Vox Pop - As clubs head for European competition, players recall travel tales

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The Independent Online
ALAN BRAZIL

IPSWICH

We were due to play FC Cologne in the semi-final of the 1981 Uefa Cup. The first leg was at Portman Road and all the talk was of this tall 6ft 5in international centre- half called Sach. He'd been in a car crash and got whiplash but they'd rushed him back for the game. Just before we went out, Paul Mariner and Terry Butcher went up to this giant and started intimidating him with the John Cleese silly walk. Then, five minutes into the game, Mariner challenged Sach. This huge guy was stretchered off. We won 1-0.

GRAEME LE SAUX

CHELSEA

European crowds can be very volatile but it is something that you just have to try to embrace. One of the funniest occasions was last year with Dennis Wise. He had received a bit of bad press just before the second leg of the Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final against Mallorca [because he had been filmed seemingly biting an opponent during the first leg at Stamford Bridge] and every time he got the ball their fans all started barking. They were shouting "dog" and "cannibal" but thankfully Wisey does not speak any Spanish.

ANDY GRAY

DUNDEE UNITED

I had always grown up with the idea that Europe was really glamorous. So when my team, Dundee United, were drawn against this Turkish side I thought "amazing". We landed in Istanbul - or Constantinople, it's so long ago - and then got on this old coach which drove us 12 hours away to this little pitch on the roadside. We just got out and played a match on the worst football surface I can remember. Our manager turned to us before the game and said: "Get in, get the job done, then let's get out."

GARY MABBUTT

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

I have many great memories from European games. The best win was in the 1984 Uefa Cup final when we won on penalties at White Hart Lane. That was such an emotional night. The hardest win was away to Porto in the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1991. We had won 1-0 at home and needed a draw. The atmosphere in the stadium was unbelievable and we required a police escort wherever we travelled; even in the ground. My coldest memory was in the Austrian winter. The only heater was under the subs bench. It was so unfair.

JIMMY CASE

LIVERPOOL

It was then behind the Iron Curtain, in the old Soviet Union I think. We were playing against Dynamo Tblisi in the European Cup. First we had to fly to Moscow, then on to Tblisi, which took forever. We had been booked in at the best hotel in town, which predictably wasn't great at all. Large gatherings weren't allowed under strict Russian rules, but they must have made a special case for us, because there were loads of people letting off flares and chanting and screaming all night outside the hotel.

JIMMY JOHNSTONE

CELTIC

I have two strong memories. The first was against Red Star Belgrade in 1969. I had a fear of flying so didn't want to go to Yugoslavia for the second leg. Jock Stein, the manager, said I wouldn't have to if we won by four clear goals. I played out of my skin; we beat them 5-1. I cried: "I'll not need to go, I'll not need to go." The second was against Atletico Madrid. After a tough first leg - three of their players were sent off - we got death threats. Stein just turned to me and said: "At least you'll be a moving target for the sniper."

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