West Ham United heroes remember Intertoto Cup glory
West Ham United lifted the second European trophy in the club’s history on this day, 24 August, in 1999.
Having finished a record-high fifth in the Premier League at the end of the 1998/99 season, Harry Redknapp’s side could have expected to qualify automatically for the UEFA Cup.
However, with only one automatic qualification spot available through league placing, Leeds United were joined in the UEFA Cup by FA Cup runners-up Newcastle United and League Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur.
That left the Hammers to enter the UEFA Intertoto Cup, a summer competition for clubs, with three ‘winners’ progressing to the UEFA Cup first round.
West Ham kicked-off their challenge on 17 July by beating Finnish outfit Jokerit 1-0 in the first round first leg, in front of just 11,098 supporters at the Boleyn Ground.
A 1-1 draw in Helsinki saw the Hammers through to a semi-final with Dutch side Heerenven. Identical 1-0 victories in both legs set up a final meeting with French club Metz, who had finished tenth in Ligue 1 the previous season.
A 1-0 home defeat left Redknapp’s side’s hopes of reaching the UEFA Cup hanging by a threat, but goals a thumping strike from Trevor Sinclair, a trademark finish from Frank Lampard and Paulo Wanchope’s goal eleven minutes from time completed a memorable turnaround in front of a 19,599-strong crowd at the Stade Saint-Symphorien.
Here, three members of the triumphant West Ham team that memorable night in eastern France...
Midfielder Steve Lomas started all six UEFA Intertoto Cup ties, including the final victory in Metz…
We finished fifth in the Premier League in 1998/99, but we didn’t qualify for Europe automatically, so we had to go the long way around through the Intertoto Cup.
Obviously the lads were a bit gutted because it meant cutting the break short, but once we got into it we went to some great places and beat Metz in France to qualify for the UEFA Cup.
If you ask the fans who went, I think they’d say going there and winning was one of their most enjoyable occasions. We had a run in the UEFA Cup after that, which they also enjoyed.
It might not have gone down too well at the start, but by the end of it the lads were also loving it.
We also started the Premier League season really well, picking up 13 points out of a possible 15, so it certainly helped us with our fitness at the start of the season, too.
Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop started five of West Ham’s six ties, including both legs of the final…
It was a successful first season and we qualified for the Intertoto Cup. I remember it started very early in the pre-season and we weren’t quite sure what to expect from it.
Before the first game against Jokerit we had been training for maybe four or five days. It really was a pre-season game, but we kept winning, the opposition wasn’t that really tough early on, and we progressed to the final where we played Metz.
We got the better of them over the two legs and qualified for the UEFA Cup.
It was less about the game against Metz, than recognising that I was part of a West Ham team that brought European football back to Upton Park – that was certainly a highlight.
Long-serving midfielder John Moncur featured in four of West Ham's six Intertoto Cup ties, starting three of them, including both legs of the final...
We had ended the 1998/99 campaign in fifth-place – our highest-ever Premier League finish – and that meant that we’d qualified for the Intertoto Cup.
People may say that it’s a trophy not worth worrying about but, as far as I was concerned, it made a pleasant change to finish so high up the table, considering most of my career had either been spent out on loan, in the second-tier or fighting relegation.
Sure, we had to start the new season on 17 July but just ask the West Ham fans whether or not they enjoyed that summer of ‘99? We all had some brilliant times beating Jokerit and Heerenveen before facing Metz in the final.
Louis Saha’s winner at Upton Park meant that the odds were stacked against us in the second-leg at Stade Saint Symphorien but goals from Trevor Sinclair and Frank Lampard put us ahead and, although the French equalised on the night, Paulo Wanchope gave us an aggregate 3-2 victory.
For me, it was brilliant to finally win a trophy. That also meant qualification for the UEFA Cup and we went on to beat NK Osijek of Croatia before losing to Steaua Bucharest in Romania in the second round.
We ended up finishing the 1999/2000 season on 14 May 2000 – a 53-game, 302-day campaign – but it was a great achievement to have finally played in Europe.