Dutch duo praise Town
DUTCH midfield darlings Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen said: "Thanks Ipswich Town for a time we'll never forget."The pair, once hailed by Sir Bobby Charlton as one of the best playmaking duos ever in British football, were part of the gala Portman Road night to mark the 20th anniversary of Bobby Robson's Blues winning the UEFA Cup.
DUTCH midfield darlings Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen said: "Thanks Ipswich Town for a time we'll never forget."
The pair, once hailed by Sir Bobby Charlton as one of the best playmaking duos ever in British football, were part of the gala Portman Road night to mark the 20th anniversary of Bobby Robson's Blues winning the UEFA Cup.
Muhren, now a coach with top Dutch side Ajax, said: "I came to England in 1979 at a time when there were so few foreign players playing in this country. I was delighted to become part of a wonderful Ipswich side that were close to winning other trophies as well as the UEFA Cup.
"I went on to Manchester United where I won an FA Cup winners medal, but the time I had with Ipswich was the happiest of my football life and for us all to get back together for this reunion is fantastic. Only a club like Ipswich would do something like this."
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Thijssen, who followed Muhren from Twente Enschede to Portman Road, won the coveted Football Writers' Player of the Year award at the end of the 1980-81 campaign.
"To be invited back here and be pictured on the pitch again with the UEFA Cup winning squad is wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I loved every minute of a great, great occasion," he said.
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"We had a team, put together by Bobby Robson, that had a magical blend and the football played was some of the best I was ever involved in. We all got on so well and for the club to bring all the squad back for this occasion is a wonderful gesture."
Thijssen, now looking for work in Holland after leaving his post as coach to Fortuna Sittard, added: "Ipswich Town is a very special club. They were special when we won the UEFA Cup and they are now. My only sadness is that the team I played in didn't win more. We were just beaten for the championship and reached the FA Cup semi-finals also."
Town chairman David Sheepshanks described the reunion dinner, held in a marquee on the Portman Road practice pitch, as being "a fitting way to launch our club into the UEFA Cup first round clashes with Torpedo Moscow that are ahead".
Current Blues boss George Burley was a member of the UEFA Cup winning squad, although a knee ligament injury kept him out of the final stages. His 2001-2002 season charges are preparing for a new Euro challenge and Thijssen said: "I've seen much of the Ipswich action of last season on television in Holland and they look to have a very good side. I wish them well in the UEFA Cup this season. If the players can enjoy it as much as we did they will have a marvellous time."
Mick Mills, the European conquering skipper of 20 years ago and now assistant manager at Birmingham, said: "This club played such a big part in my life and it's always special to come back for an occasion like this especially.
"It's wonderful to mark the past and can I also pay tribute to the future. My former team-mate, George Burley, has put together a side that has left us behind and I congratulate him on it.
"A club like Ipswich deserves success and I'm sure I speak for all the boys of '81 when I say that I hope they get more of it this season."
Goalkeeper Paul Cooper flew in from his home in Tenerife to be part of the night.
He said: "When Bobby Robson signed me from Birmingham for just over £20,000 I couldn't have imagined how fabulous my career was to be with Ipswich. The FA Cup win in 1978 was marvellous and it was lovely to return to the Ipswich Town Hall to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this a few years back.
"Now it's such a thrill to be a part of a big night at the Portman Road ground itself for the anniversary of our UEFA success."
Kevin Steggles, a key squad defender who came in to do vital jobs on the UEFA winning trail, was one of the youngest members of the all-conquering Blues overseas assault of two decades ago. The Suffolk born and bred full-back or central defender, who lives at Felixstowe, said: "Being a young lad at the time it was brilliant to play in the same team as some of the great international stars that Town had.
"To be invited back to see them all again is terrific."