MANCHESTER UNITED have the chance to win the only trophy to have eluded them in their illustrious history when they take on Ajax in the Europa League final.
If the Red Devils are successful they become only the fifth team in history to win all three major European competitions — the Champions League, Europa League and Cup Winners’ Cup.
Bayern Munich, Juventus and Chelsea have all achieved the feat, as have their Dutch opponents for the Stockholm showpiece.
Keep up with the news, build-up and LIVE action in our Europa League final blog
Ahead of their seventh European final, Football Whispers takes a look at how the club have fared on the six previous occasions they have competed for top honours on the continent.
Benfica 1-4 Manchester United (aet), European Cup, 1968
A DECADE after the Munich air disaster that claimed the lives of eight members of the famed Busby Babes, United lifted their first European trophy, overcoming Eusebio’s Benfica.
A United side boasting the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles had taken the lead in the 53rd minute when Charlton headed in from a David Sadler cross.
Jaime Graca equalised for the Portuguese side with just 11 minutes of normal time remaining, a scoreline that remained until full-time.
However, three goals in the first half of extra-time from Best, Charlton and Brian Kidd secured the trophy.
They become the first English team to win the continent’s top prize after Celtic had became the first British side to do so the previous year.
Manchester United 2-1 Barcelona, Cup Winners’ Cup 1991
UNITED had to wait 23 years until their next European final, following on from the FA Cup win that was largely credited with saving Alex Ferguson’s job during his early years.
Two Mark Hughes goals in the space of seven second-half minutes had put Ferguson’s side in control against Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona.
However, a Ronald Koeman free kick five minutes later set up a nervy final ten minutes, with the Spanish side having a shot cleared off the line and a late equaliser ruled out.
United hung on to win a second trophy in two years, with the club going on to dominate English football during the nineties.
Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, Champions League 1999
UNITED’S hopes of securing a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble appeared to be over as the final of Europe’s premier club competition entered stoppage time.
United were 1-0 down to Bayern Munich following an early Mario Basler free kick.
However, goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed one of the most dramatic comebacks in the competition’s history.
The Red Devils had ridden their luck through the second half, with Peter Schmeichel forced to make a number of smart saves, while Mehmet Scholl hit the post with a delicate chip.
The match can be summed up nicely by Alex Ferguson’s first words during his interview at the end of the game: “Football. Bloody hell.”
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea, (6-5 on penalties), Champions League, 2008
THE pinnacle for English teams in European competition…
These two Premier League heavyweights competed for the continent’s top honour in Moscow having spent the whole season fighting each other for the league title.
United had come out on top domestically, and started the stronger of the two sides in this game, taking the lead through a Cristiano Ronaldo header.
Ferguson’s side had opportunities to extend their lead, Petr Cech denying Carlos Tevez and Michael Carrick.
But it was Chelsea who scored next, Frank Lampard latching onto a loose ball in the final minute of the half.
Avram Grant’s side emerged the stronger after the restart, but the game headed to extra time when both teams had chances to score the winner.
But it was the sending off of Didier Drogba that proved the most decisive moment.
After Cristiano Ronaldo had missed his penalty, John Terry had the opportunity to win the game for Chelsea, but he slipped as he struck the ball, sending the shot wide.
Anderson, Salomon Kalou and Ryan Giggs scored the first three penalties of sudden death, but Nicolas Anelka’s striker was saved by Edwin van der Sar.
United’s third European Cup success was to be the last continental triumph during the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United, Champions League, 2009
UNITED had the chance to become the first team in Champions League history to retain the trophy when they faced Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in Rome.
The Red Devils had been favourites heading into the game and started the brighter of the two.
But a hugely impressive Barca performance — heralding the European dominance to come from the
Catalan side — was too much for Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.
An early Samuel Eto’o goal was added to by Lionel Messi in the 70th minute.
Although Ronaldo had a great chance immediately after to get the Red Devils back in the game, the Blaugrana went on to win their third Champions League in 17 years.
Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United, Champions League, 2011
UNITED went into their Champions League rematch with Barcelona with Ferguson saying he knew what had gone wrong two years earlier, and he knew how to beat them this time.
However, by the end of the tie the Scottish manager claimed that this Barca side was the best team he had ever faced following a 3-1 victory that never looked in doubt.
The La Liga side dominated possession and mustered 19 shots on goal compared with United’s four.
Goals from Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa helping Pep Guardiola’s side to their second Champions League triumph under his stewardship.