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The UEFA Cup was originally conceived by Ernst Thommen, Ottorino Barasi, and Sir Stanley Rous. They wanted to create a tournament from representative sides, for European City teams that regularly held trade fairs. Originally named the Intercity Fairs cup, this new tournament was started on the 18th of April 1955, only two weeks after the creation of the European Champions League cup.
The Very first fairs now the UEFA cup had teams from all over Europe. Teams supporting Basel, Birmingham, Lausanne. London and Frankfurt came just to name a few. The second tournament of the UEFA Cup, held two years later did involve club teams. However there was still the stipulation that these teams had to come from cities hosting trade fairs. In the 1958-60 tournaments, only 16 teams participated. This was soon increased to 32 and the tournament was to be held annually. Today over 100 teams participate in the UEFA Cup tournament.
In the early days of the UEFA Cup, it seemed that teams from southern Europe had an advantage. They won the first 3 tournament titles. Then the direction changed when in 1968 Leeds united were the first team from a northern European country to claim the cup. After the Leeds victory, the cup would be won 6 successive times by English teams. Tottenham hotspurs, a north London based team were the fifth London Team to claim the title in the 1971/72 season. The importance of this year is that the name of the tournament was officially changed to the UEFA Cup. This announced to the world in a sense that the tournament was now controlled by UEFA and was no longer tied to the trade fairs.
The northern European teams still continued to dominate the UEFA Cup. Between 1968 and 1984 the final winners all came from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK with the exception of 1977 when Juventus took the title. The tide soon shifted after the mid eighties with a long string of Italian victories. The Italians took the UEFA cup title 8 times in 11 seasons from 1989 onward.
The current reigning champions of the UEFA Cup are the Spanish club Sevilla. They ended a 58 year drought in the UEFA Cup when the beat UK based team Middlesborough in a 4-0 match held in Eindhoven. The current UEFA cup is still very much up for grabs and promises to bring as much excitement, joy and suspense as previous years. Catch the UEFA Cup action live online.