Sportinguismo has from today a few days to fill with nostalgia and remember one of the great milestones in its history. It is 40 years since the first final of the Copa del Rey that the rojiblanco team played and the classification for that match took place on June 13, 1981 in Seville.
Sporting lived the best years of its history in the league. It was the first season without Quini, after his famous transfer to Barça in the summer of 1980 (80 million pesetas, 480,000 euros). The team led by Vicente Miera finished the League in seventh position, in that year without the ‘Brujo’, after being fifth (1977-78), second (1978-79) and third (1979-80) in previous campaigns with the prominence and goals of the legendary and unforgettable striker.
The season had concluded at the beginning of May with a defeat by the minimum (1-0) in El Sardinero against Rácing. Qualification for the UEFA Cup had not been reached as in previous years but the Copa del Rey remained and Sporting reached the semifinals for the seventh time in their history after eliminating Real Madrid thanks to three goals from Abel at the Bernabéu (2-3) that served to overcome a round that seemed uphill with 1-1 in the first leg at El Molinón.
Sevilla expected in the semifinals but at Sporting there was suspicion of the resounding failure of the previous year. In the 1980 Cup, the rojiblanco team was eliminated against Castilla at the gates of the final; they had won 2-0 in Gijón but lost 4-1 at the white stadium in Chamartín. But this time he was not going to escape.
The goals of Pedro and Abel in the first leg at home gave that Sporting de Miera some confidence ahead of the return at the Sánchez Pizjuán, scheduled for a hot night on Saturday, June 13. The Gijon team lived a relatively quiet game, without stress despite the need to score goals that Sevilla led by Miguel Muñoz had and with Buyo in goal leading that line-up with legendary figures such as Blanco, Álvarez, Pintinho or the Asturian Juan Carlos.
Sporting took out the thorn of the previous year. Vicente Miera lined up the same eleven that days later he chose for the final. They formed the following men: Rivero; Redondo, Maceda, Jiménez, Cundi; Joaquín, Ciriaco, Mesa, Uría; Abel and Ferrero. David (57 ‘) and Doria (88’) entered the second half for Abel and Ferrero, respectively.
The moment was historic for all but the Sporting players had an important prize without knowing the result of the final. The board of directors chaired by Manuel Vega-Arango He prevailed for each footballer with 300,000 pesetas (1,800 euros) by qualifying for the title match.
The history of Sporting in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey is relevant. Because in those years, the rojiblanco team played four consecutive semifinals between 1980 and 1983. In total, the Gijón team played a dozen times to reach the final, of which they only triumphed in two, the one they occupy this time against Sevilla (1981) and against Rayo Vallecano (1982).
The 12 Sporting semi-finals in the cup competition, with their rivals were the following: 1922, FC Barcelona; 1923, Europe; 1924, FC Barcelona; 1973, Castellón; 1978, UD Las Palmas; 1980, Castilla; 1981, Seville; 1982, Rayo Vallecano; 1983, Real Madrid; 1991, Mallorca; 1992, Real Madrid; and 1995, Deportivo.
The image that accompanies these lines corresponds to the Sevilla-Sporting match of that June 13, 1981. The rojiblanco goalkeeper Rivero catches the ball, surrounded by his teammates Maceda, Joaquín, Jiménez and Cundi.