Frankfurt fans go wild after 42-year wait for European title
BERLIN (AP) — Eintracht Frankfurt fans waited long enough.
When Rafael Borré struck the decisive penalty for Frankfurt to win the Europa League with a 5-4 shootout win over Glasgow Rangers in Sevilla, Spain, late Wednesday, thousands of fans who packed Frankfurt’s home stadium to watch in Germany flipped out.
Some 60,000 supporters in and around Frankfurt’s Waldstadion erupted in an ecstatic outburst of joy and relief, with fans screaming, jumping, pumping their fists in the air, hugging and roaring. Some lit flares in the center of the field, others flew giant Eintracht flags. Some even cried.
City streets filled with honking cars as strangers wearing Frankfurt scarves spilled out of pubs, embraced each other and celebrated together.
It was Frankfurt’s first European trophy since Fred Schaub scored the winner against Borussia Mönchengladbach to win the 1980 UEFA Cup, the predecessor to the Europa League.
Frankfurt fans’ wait was cruelly extended through the drama of extra time and penalties after Oliver Glasner’s team failed to make more of several good early chances against Rangers.
So Borré’s goal – the Colombian forward’s second of the game after his second-half equalizer – set off a wild party.
Even the normally restrained Glasner, the quiet Austrian coach who led Frankfurt unbeaten through Europe’s secondary competition, joined the celebrations with his players at Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium.
“I’m going to party till Saturday and I’m going on vacation on Sunday,” Glasner said.
Glasner can look forward to getting the team ready for the European Super Cup against Real Madrid or Liverpool in Helsinki on Aug. 10, and then for the Champions League, which Frankfurt reached by winning Wednesday’s final.
Those games will provide a welcome windfall for Frankfurt, especially after the loss in earnings caused by the coronavirus pandemic, when most Bundesliga games were played with little or no crowds.
But sporting director Markus Krösche said the club will not be changing its transfer strategy because it has reached Europe’s premier competition. He said the club will continue to work “cleverly and in a forward direction.”
Club president Peter Fischer agreed.
“We’re not going to go on a shopping trip just because we qualified for the Champions League,” Fischer said. “We might strengthen in one or two areas, but there will be no harikari in this club.”
Frankfurt, which finished 11th in the Bundesliga, hopes the Europa League win can steer it toward a new successful era.
“It’s a bit easier when you’re recruiting players if you can say that you don’t know if you’ll be playing Liverpool or Real Madrid, but perhaps you’d like to be there? It sounds better than Greuther Fürth,” Fischer said, referring to the team that just finished last in the Bundesliga.
Frankfurt will also look to secure the future of some of its top performers.
Brazilian defender Tuta has already extended his contract by three years to 2026, but Filip Kostic, Daichi Kamada and Evan Ndicka all have just a year left at the club.
Star player Kostic‘s case is of particular importance for Frankfurt fans.
“He still has a year on his contract,” Glasner said after Wednesday’s match. “We spoke on the field but I won’t say what. I don’t think that was his last game.”
Meanwhile, the party was set to continue with around 100,000 fans expected in Frankfurt for the team’s return on Thursday.
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