The politics of Eastern Europe remains one of the integral aspects of the development of football within the region during the 20th century. The influence of the political realm is such that club’s were formed as a representative of a particular ideology, from Moscow’s major sides to Belgrade and beyond. Such politicisation of the game is a key reason for the bitter hatred felt between the support of different clubs throughout the region, although the tensions have become increasingly an expression of social separation.
The 1981 Cup Winners’ Cup final was a battle of the East, and a battle that represented the power and scale of the communist ideology.
When the Soviet Union’s Dinamo Tbilisi – now of Georgia – stepped out to face East Germany’s Carl Zeiss Jena on the turf of Düsseldorf’s Rheinstadion – a West German city – there was a sense of pride in the fact that two nation’s held down by the weight of communism could step upon Western soil as the two greatest entities in a European competition.
Both Dinamo and Carl Zeiss managed to overhaul the powers of Roma, Valencia, Benfica and Feyenoord, between them, on their romp to the final – as well as the lesser talents of Newport County and Waterford, respectively. Victories against Western opposition had always been the sweetest dish for teams from the East and the impressive manner of both side’s runs to Düsseldorf came thanks to the baring of a wrath that was unexpected to many.
The final was played in front of a derisory crowd of around 9,000 – which is entirely unsurprising given the location of the fixture – who witnessed a match that came to the fore with a late flutter.
Dinamo Tbilisi dominated the proceedings during the first half with a persistent barrage of attacks placing the German defence under heavy pressure. Hans-Ulrich Grapenthin in the Carl Zeiss goal was called into action on numerous occasions as Dinamo pierced through a lacklustre defence on a regular basis. Carl Zeiss’ forward Jürgen Raab fluffed the game’s best opportunity in the second half as he skied Andreas Bielau’s low driven cross high over the bar from six yards, with Dinamo’s goalkeeper, Otar Gabelia, scrambling.
Goals were few and far between and it was not until just after the hour mark that either side made a mark on the scoreboard when Gerhard Hoppe’s unorthodox, flicked finish, following stellar work on the left flank from Raab and Lutz Lindemann, saw the German’s take the lead – much to the bemusement of Dinamo’s players and coaches.
It didn’t take long for the Soviet’s to reply to going a goal down as Vladimir Gutsaev’s clinical following a clever dribble from Nugzar Kakilashvili – with literally his first touch of the ball – sent Dinamo into hysterics as they drew level. The pressure began to grow and grow on Carl Zeiss’ defence as balls came into the box from both flanks, with Dinamo committing men forward in search of the winner.
Then, with five minutes remaining, a moment of genius won the football match. Vitaly Daraselia burst through the Carl Zeiss defence, jinking past two men before unleashing a fierce strike into the back of the net. It was truly a goal that deserved to win a European cup final, and a goal that remains one of Dinamo’s Tbilisi’s most fondly remembered.
Daraselia would later tragically die in a car accident the following year – in the wake of him representing the Soviet Union at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. You can see street names in both Tbilisi and Abkhazia bearing his name.
Despite Dinamo Tbilisi winning the match, it was Eastern football that ultimately faired as the greater winner of the occasion. It proved that the Eastern game was the entity that it had always promised to be and it appeared as though a new dawn could finally be upon us.
As suggested by @stakhanovite.
Words by Domm Norris.