With The Premier League’s crème de la crème currently enjoying the penultimate round of Champions and Europa League matches of 2017, we look back at our own history in UEFA Competitions and find out that East London has been put on the map in Europe.
West Ham United is not a club that is often synonymized with glory on the world stage, or in fact on The Continental one, however, our history in such glitzy Tournaments isn’t as non-existent as many fans of other clubs would care to admit.
While many draw back to our most recent European adventures, being knocked out of the Europa League Third qualifying Ground by minnows Astra Giurgiu over two legs at the start of the 2015/2016 campaign.
Followed by another exit at the hands of the then reigning Romanian Champions, this time in The Play-Off Round with an embarrassing second leg defeat at The London Stadium during the last campaign, under Slaven Bilic.
Also, fairly recently in context, our participation in the Tournament, then called The UEFA Cup, back in 2006 which was made possible by making it to The FA Cup Final against Champions league side Liverpool at the end of the previous season.
Drawn in The First Round, the equivalent of today’s Play-Off Stage, against Serie A’s Palermo, The Hammers fell 4-0 on aggregate and failed to reach The Groups, as fan clashes during the away leg overshadowed the encounter.
However, you don’t have to look much further back in history to find our second European Trophy in the Harry Redknapp era and with a special team of young players.
Finishing sixth in the 1988/1999 FA Premier League campaign, Redknapp’s boys Qualified for The UEFA Intertoto Cup, a Competition that would yield triumph for The Hammers.
Overcoming Jokerit of Finland, Heerenveen of Holland and finally FC Metz of France in the famous Final, winning 3-2 on aggregate over the two legs.
Despite the triumph, the boys on Claret & Blue still didn’t manage to make the UEFA Cup Group Stages, having been knocked out by Steaua Bucharest after beating NK Osijek from Yugoslavia in The First Round.
This participation ended a wait of 24 years for European participation, one that would have been shorter if it wasn’t for a ban imposed on English teams during the 1960’s in the wake of the Heysel Disaster.
Baaing featuring in The Anglo Italian Cup, which is not considered to be a major Competition, but, The European Cup Winners’ Cup, considered to be at the same level as The European Cup in those days, was a different story indeed.
The most recent Hammers appearance at the now abolished Tournament came in the 1980/1981 season after winning The FA Cup, but we would fall foul of a talented Dinamo Tbilisi side, post besting Castilla and Poli Timisoara to make it to The Quarter-Finals.
This failed to match the magical run of five years previous after getting into The Cup through the same route, we had brushed aside some high-calibre opposition, including FC Den Haag and Eintracht Frankfurt, Anderlecht laid in waiting in The Final at Heysel Stadium.
But, it wasn’t to be our day with a 2-4 loss, which was more than can be said about The Irons’ heroics during the 1960s.
In the wake of our first FA Cup triumph, a win over Preston North End, we had embarked on our first ever European venture in that special Tournament in 1964/1965.
Under the wise Management of Ron Greenwood, a Claret & Blue side with the likes of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters at the forefront, breezed through the earlier rounds at the mercy of Gent, Sparta Prague and Lausanne-Sport of Switzerland.
This set up a triumphant Semi-Final against Real Zaragoza, winning 3-2 on aggregate yet again, meaning we would face Germany’s 1860 Munich in West London.
Over 100,000 piled into Wembley on that famous summer’s night an Alan Sealey brace delivered our one and only slice of European glory to date, making us only the second English team to win a UEFA Competition.
In addition, the glorious victory also entered us into the year after’s version of The Cup, bowing out at the semi-final stage to Borussia Dortmund in what has surely been our most high profile Competitive Continental encounter to this very day.
It’s unclear whether any West Ham United team will ever be able to emulate that of the 1960s sides on the World Stage, over 70 years since that remarkable feat, but it does prove that European successes in Claret & Blue have occurred a little more frequently than some would think.