Date: Wednesday, 13th November 1968.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.

Competition: Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Second Round, First Leg.

Score: Leeds United 2 SSC Napoli 0

Scorers: Leeds United: Charlton (2). SSC Napoli: Nil.

Attendance: 26,967.


Leeds United: Sprake; Reaney, Madeley; Bremner, Charlton, Hunter; O’Grady, Jones, Belfitt, Giles, Lorimer.

SSC Napoli: Zoff; Nardin, Panzanato; Stenti, Guameri, Zurlini; Altafini, Juliano, Nielson (Sala), Sivori, Barlson.

Referee: Paul Schiller (Austria).


Napoli had a reputation for being a hard side, but their strong-arm tactics could not prevent United from building a 2-0 First Leg lead at Elland Road thanks to a couple of Jack Charlton headers. The Italians, who had knocked out the Swiss club Grasshoppers in the previous round, were not in the best of form. They had dual Internationals Jose Altafini (Brazil) and Omar Sivori (Argentina), who both also played for Italy, in their team. Altafini was 30 and Sivori 33 but both were still fine players. Sivori, and his trademark socks rolled down to his ankles relying on his skill rather than shin pads, had formed a brilliant partnership with John Charles as Juventus won the Italian Championship in 1958, 1960 and 1961 and the Italian Cup in 1959 and 1960. Danish International Harald Nielson, who had previously faced United when with Bologna and Italian Internationals Dino Zoff, Antonio Juliano and Claudio Sala were also in an impressive line-up.


Napoli had lost 2-1 at Bologna in the Serie A on the Sunday before the Elland Road encounter and were in dispute with their star forward Enrique Sivori over his lack of fitness. However, the Napoli coach Guiseppe Chiapelle knew he would need Sivori against a side as powerful as Leeds. As it turned out Sivori was rarely seen as Leeds dominated the game. United played some fast linking and constantly varied football, particularly in the first quarter of the game, and only a purely instinctive save by the talented international goalkeeper Dino Zoff prevented Mick Jones, who was wearing the unfamiliar No. 8 shirt, from putting United ahead after just two minutes play.

Jones and his strike partner Rod Belfitt ran the Italian defence ragged and the hard working Jones had two ‘goals’ disallowed for what must have been hairline off-side decisions. There was a further surprise for the United centre-forward when he got an undoubted thump in the face from a Napoli defender as he was singled out for some rough treatment by the Napoli defence. Jones and Belfitt received good support from Mike O’Grady who was a constant source of menace on the right wing and with the Naples defence preoccupied with Jones Jack Charlton was given too much freedom in his upfield sorties and it was he who opened the scoring for United after twenty-three minutes as he headed home a Billy Bremner free-kick and just two minutes later added a second as he headed in an in-swinging Johnny Giles corner.

Captain Billy Bremner, who was carrying a back injury, was his usual inspirational self in midfield as United battled in vain to get the vital third goal which would have effectively killed off the Neapolitan threat for the tie, and United had to be content with a 2-0 home victory.

That was how the first leg finished and afterwards, Napoli’s general manager Dr Salvatore de Caro admitted their defenders had been fooled by the goal-scoring instincts of United’s central defender. “Charlton took us by surprise, but he won’t do so again. We controlled him for three-quarters of the match after his two goals”, he said.

United, while happy to have opened up a two-goal lead, were, however, more concerned with one or two nasty incidents that had occurred during the game. “Napoli played some good clean football but some of their players resorted to things which upset me” Revie said. “Some of my players said they had fingers poked in their eyes and faces in scrambles, and then there was the punch in the face Jones took and some other unsavoury moments.” He added, “If we lose our lead in Naples we will deserve to be beat”, but feared more tough tactics would be in store from the Italians, both on and off the pitch.


Match Action:


Dino Zoff saves from Rod Belfitt

Jack Charlton heads the second goal

Jack Charlton celebrates his second goal





Altafini and Omar Sivori

John Charles and Omar Sivori

Omar Sivori

Antonio Juliano

Harald Nielson

Dino Zoff