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What Happened The Last Time Tottenham Reached The European Cup Semi-Finals?

Tottenham have ended their 57-year wait for another European Cup semi-final
Tottenham have ended their 57-year wait for another European Cup semi-final

Tottenham are now a tantalising three matches away from winning the Champions League.

History is in their sights.

On an action-packed Wednesday night the camera instantly panned to Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino when the final whistle eventually blew at the Etihad to signal the end of one of the most enthralling Champions League matches you’ll ever see.

The Argentine, usually a picture of complete composure, transformed into a bustling ball of jubilation, completely encapsulated by the pure unbridled joy of the moment. After all, he’d just become the first Tottenham manager to lead the club through to the European Cup semi-finals since the legendary Bill Nicholson ‘Mr Tottenham’ back in 1962 - the club’s first ever voyage in the competition.

For all his immense impact upon the club, Pochettino has yet to lift any silverware since switching from the Saints in the summer of 2014. However, his eyes are now firmly locked on the most coveted trophy on the continent.

"I am more than happy, I am more than proud," said Pochettino.

"To be in the semis was a dream. Now we are there. My players are heroes."

It’s a piece of silverware Tottenham have never lifted. The club won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962/63 - when they hammered Atletico Madrid 5-1 to become the first British club to taste European success - then the following decade (1972) they edged out Wolves 3-2 over two legs in the UEFA Cup, before pipping Anderlecht on penalties in the 1984 addition.

But back to the European Cup.

Fresh from scooping English football’s first league and FA Cup double of the 20th Century in 1961, boss Nicholson was determined to lead his troops to the summit of Europe in their first showing.

Spurs didn’t get off to the best of starts, losing 4-2 to Polish side Gornik Zabrze in the first-leg of the preliminary round only to romp to an 8-1 success back on home soil. In the first round Nicholson’s troops overcame Feyenoord 4-2 on aggregate to progress through to the quarter-finals.

Spurs then suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat away to Dukla Prague, but again squeezed the most out of their home advantage in a comprehensive 4-1 win at the Lane. So, on to the semi-finals against Béla Guttmann’s holders Benfica, who had a certain Eusebio nestled in their ranks.

As had become custom in their European journey, Tottenham were downed in the first-leg 3-1 in Portugal, where they had a couple of goals disallowed. Back in England Spurs endured a poor start as the visitors took the lead after just 15 minutes, meaning the hosts had a mountain to climb.

Jimmy Greaves had a goal controversially disallowed but to their credit the Londoners clawed their way back with two goals to make it 3-4 on aggregate, but despite hammering the woodwork twice they were unable to find another goal during the final 40 minutes.

Benfica went on to successfully defend their trophy, while Spurs recovered from the disappointment to retain the FA Cup following a 3-1 win over Burnley.

Now, back to the present day.

Tottenham have had to wait a staggering 57 years for a return to the European Cup semi-finals, and now standing in the way of a place in June’s showpiece spectacle is Ajax, the surprise outfit of this year’s competition who started their campaign back in July and have since gone on to conquer both Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the last-4.

It promises to be a cracker, with the first-leg at Tottenham’s new stadium on 30 April, before the teams tussle in Amsterdam the following week.

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