The Polish Legion marches to Europe


This UEFA Champions League season for the first time since the 1996-97 season will see the participation of a Polish club in Europe’s highest and most famous football club competition when Widzew Lodz became the last Polish club to participate in Europe’s most highest and famous club competition,but this isn’t about Widzew Lodz which is now in the 3 tier of Polish football due to its dire financial situation,but one of the most famous Polish clubs which two decades ago in 1996 has achieved its best result when it made to the quarterfinal of the Champions League-Legia Warsaw.That 1995-96 season after making out of the group stage which consisted of Blackburn Rovers,Spartak Moscow and Rosenborg,Legia in the quarterfinals faced Panathinaikos and after a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Warsaw,the Legionairres where defeated 3-0 in the second leg in Athens.After that the Legionairres had to wait for two decades to return to the Champions League after four unsuccessful tries in the qualifications besides they have become more or less a fixture in European club football through the UEFA Cup and later the UEFA Europe League where they have achieved little success.Only in the 2011-12 and 2014-15 season of the UEFA Europe League the Legionairres made out of the group in to the round of 32 where they were defeated by Sporting Lisabon and Ajax Amsterdam.And that was it of the results in European competitions besides that they collected three Ekstraklasa titles from 2013 to last season with some sporadic success in the Ekstraklasa in the 1990s and 2000s while being also the record Polish Cup winners with 18 titles.However the Legionairres from Warsaw have a rich history in European competitions starting in the 1956-57 when it played it first match in the qualifying match to enter the European Champions Cup against Slovan Bratislava which they lost 2-4 in aggregate score and its next appearace was three years later in 1960 when they faced the Danes from Aarhus and again they were defeated but in the 1964-65 season they made it to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup where after defeating Admira Modling and Galatasaray they faced the runner-up of the competition 1860 Munich which has trounced them at home 0-4 and with a 0-0 draw in Munich,the Legionairres were out.But it was in the 1969-70 season of the European Champions Cup that the Legionairres would achieve its biggest success and its most notable result in Europe.After winning the Ekstraklasa in the previous 1968-69 season the Legionairres were drawn in the First round of the competition with UTA Arad from Romania which the Legionairres after a near 1-2 victory in Romania in the first leg,completely trounced them in the second leg in Warsaw with an 8-0 victory.In the Second round they faced the one of the favorites of the competition which was Saint-Etienne but thanks to Kazimierz Deyna who played for the Legionairres for a decade (1968-1978) and his goals in both legs the Legionairres to the quarterfinals where again they faced Galatasaray where legendary striker who spent his whole career in the club Lucjan Brychczy scored all three goals in both matches against the Turks where it opened the gates of a possible historical final at the legendary San Siro in Milano.However in the semifinals they faced the later winner of the competition Feyenoord Rotterdam where after a 0-0 in Warsaw,the Dutch won the second leg at home with the goals of Hasil and van Hanegem and later won the competition by beating Celtic in the final,while for the Legionairres represented a result which they wouldn’t repeat until the 1990-91 UEFA Cup Winners Cup semifinal against Ferguson’s Manchester United where after defeating Swift Hesperange,Aberdeen and Sampdoria.However the Red Devils were in both much stronger and it that period they just begun their conquest of England and Europe.With the goals of McClair,Hughes and Bruce in Warsaw and Cyzio scoring the only goal in the First leg of the semifinal.The Legionairres needed a miracle to see the final in Rotterdam,but the Second leg ended in a 1-1 draw with Lee Sharpe and Wojchiech Kowalczyk scoring the goals which meant another heartbreak for the Legionairres of reaching a European final.After the quarterfinal exit in the 1996 UEFA Champions League,the Legionairres had crashed either in the early stages or in the qualification rounds of European competions,until the 2011-12 UEFA Europe League where they made the Round of 32 against Sporting Lisabon and with the recovery of the club in recent seasons under Norwegian coach Henning Berg,the Legionairres began to dominate the Ekstraklasa with winning three titles in the last four seasons began to plan for a return to the Champions League after two long decades of being apsent.And this this the Legionairres finally made its return to the Champions League after two decades of disappointments and the besides being drawn in a tough group with Sporting,Borussia Dortmund and the current holder Real Madrid,the future for the Legionairres couldn’t be brighter.


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