Twelve years have passed since the mythical Intertoto Cup ceased to exist back in 2008.
The competition gave us the opportunity to watch international duels between several teams from exotic destinations during the summer months.
It also gave those humble sides, along with clubs who had a bad season, the chance to compete for a trophy.
Beginnings and history
It was born in the mid-1960s, under the name International Football Cup, as a tournament for those teams, from Central Europe, who had not clinched a spot in the European Cup or the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Its purpose was purely financial and after seeing its success, UEFA decided to intervene and began to formally organise it in 1995.
The Intertoto Cup was successful at the start but as the years passed, interest waned, due to the high volume of pre-season games.
Many clubs were giving up their place and it was abolished in 2009 with Michel Platini‘s arrival as UEFA president.
Then, the governing body introduced the preliminary phase of the, at that time, new Europa League.
In the 1960s, when it was purely an unofficial tournament, a group and knockout phase was held with a single winner.
From the 1970s until UEFA‘s involvement there were different leagues with various champions.
Then, from the summer of 1995, a new format with qualifiers and three finals was introduced and gave the winners access to the UEFA Cup.
In the last three editions, the winner of the trophy was dictated by which team subsequently went furthest in the UEFA Cup.
Up to 30 different teams have won this tournament, with Stuttgart, Hamburg, Schalke and Villarreal being the clubs who clinched it most, with two successes each.
The country that managed the most trophies was France with 12, while Spain has four Intertoto champions (Villarreal, Malaga, Celta Vigo and Valencia) and one International Football Cup winner (Espanyol).
Spanish teams in the Intertoto Cup
Ten teams from Spain participated in the famous summer tournament: Villarreal (four times); Deportivo La Coruna, Real Betis, Atletico Madrid, Valencia (twice); Athletic Club, Celta Vigo, Real Mallorca, Real Valladolid and Racing Santander (once).
LaLiga as a European competition with the third most trophies with five in total and the second most runners-up (four teams).
Great players and mythical matches
Fernando Torres, Diego Simeone, Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte, Roberto Baggio, Pablo Aimar, Juan Roman Riquelme, Rafael Van der Vart and Pepe Reina are just some of the superstars who participated in the tournament.
Some of its most historic moments were the 2-2 draw in the 1999 final between Juventus and Stade Rennais, Celta Vigo’s 2-1 win against Zenit in 2000, Paris Saint-Germain beating Baggio’s Brescia on away goals in 2001, the penalty shootout between Villarreal and Atletico Madrid in 2004 and Diego Forlan’s first goal with Los Rojiblancos against Gloria Bistrita on July 29, 2007.