Sports Retro: Sheffield Wednesday in Europe...20 years ago

Sheffield Wednesday v Aarhus - 22nd July 1995'Dan Petrescu celebrates after scoring

Sheffield Wednesday v Aarhus - 22nd July 1995'Dan Petrescu celebrates after scoring

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It is 20 years since European football graced South Yorkshire - Millmoor to be precise.

It was the mid-1990s and the era of the Intertoto Cup with the promise of entry into the UEFA Cup the carrot being dangled in front of the Football Association.

UEFA gave the FA three spaces to fill but given the cup started just six weeks after the conclusion of the Premier League season, there was little enthusiasm.

Players were on the beach, managers too were resting or planning and in Sheffield Wednesday’s case they were busy installing a new boss in the shape of David Pleat, the successor to Trevor Francis.

Eventually Wednesday agreed to take part along with Tottenham and Wimbledon with the winners of each of the 12 groups, along with four best runners-up, qualifying for the knockout stages.

The Owls were drawn in Group 1 where they would face Bundesliga side Karlsruhe, Aarhus who would finish as runners-up in the Danish Superliga, Swiss team Basle FC and Gornik Zabraze, who had narrowly missed out on the Polish title the previous season.

Mark Bright, Sheffield Wednesday FC - 1995

Mark Bright, Sheffield Wednesday FC - 1995

So to Wednesday’s first match against Basle on June 24 - four days after the release of the following season’s fixtures.

Although Pleat had just been named Owls boss, it was youth development officer Clive Baker who led the side in Switzerland.

Before the match The Star declared that midfielder Graham Hyde was leading the Owls “into the unknown” and little known was known about the composition of either side with the Swiss domestic league having only recently ended.

In fact there were five guest players on the pitch for the Owls including former striker John Pearson who had left Hillsborough for Charlton nine years previously and was about to embark on his final season as a player with Cardiff.

Sheffield Wednesday v Gornik Zabrze - 8th July 1995 Chris Waddle with Gornik's Arkadiusz Kubik

Sheffield Wednesday v Gornik Zabrze - 8th July 1995 Chris Waddle with Gornik's Arkadiusz Kubik

Basle put out a near full-strength side, which contained three internationals, and in the end they prevailed 1-0 thanks to a goal by Alexandre Rey in the 69th minute in front of a crowd of 6,000 that contained about 100 travelling Wednesday fans.

Coach Baker said: “It was a reasonable result given Wimbledon lost 4-0 and Spurs 2-0.

“In terms of effort and attitude, our lads were a credit to themselves and the club. We weathered the early storm then had flurries of play where we created things, with Lee Briscoe and Graham Hyde doing well and we passed it quite well.

“It was 0-0 at half time then a lapse in concentration cost us a goal. John Pearson swivelled on one effort that on another day might have gone in. An equaliser wasn’t beyond us.”

David Pleat. Sheffield Wednesday New Manager faces the press in the Hillsborough Boardroom.

David Pleat. Sheffield Wednesday New Manager faces the press in the Hillsborough Boardroom.

Next up was a home clash with Gornik Zabraze but the Owls would not be welcoming the Poles to Hillsborough. With the S6 ground being redeveloped in readiness for Euro 96, it was instead Millmoor - the home of Rotherham.

Pleat took charge for the first time and saw Wednesday go ahead with a 13th-minute own goal by Maciej Krzetowski before Mark Bright headed home Ian Nolan’s cross a minute before the break.

Chris Waddle then got Wednesday’s third after following up a shot from Bright which had rebounded off the post.

Marek Szemonski scored Gornik’s first goal with Owls goalkeeper Chris Woods falling backwards over the line with the ball in his hands following a Des Walker back header for the second.

Next up was a trip to Karlsruhe, the Germans with a 100% record after two games, for a match officiated by a certain Pierluigi Collina.

Slaven Bilic, later of West Ham and Everton, gave the hosts an early lead but Bright again made his presence felt with an equaliser nine minutes from time.

Mark Bright strikes a pose

Mark Bright strikes a pose

The final game saw Wednesday and Millmoor host Aarhus on July 22.

Bright was again on the scoresheet, sweeping a first-time left-footed lob over the goalkeeper before Novica Joković levelled for the Danes.

Bright struck again after controlling the ball with his right foot before slotting home after a lucky ricochet off a defender.

Dan Petrescu scored goal number three after cutting inside the advancing goalkeeper who had gone to ground and firing home.

So, the Owls rounded off with a 3-1 victory and second place in Group 1 behind Karlsruhe who went on to the semi-final stage.

Sheffield Wednesday v Aarhus - 22nd July 1995'Dan Petrescu scores past Aarhus goalkeeper Lars Windfeld

Sheffield Wednesday v Aarhus - 22nd July 1995'Dan Petrescu scores past Aarhus goalkeeper Lars Windfeld