A long association – Rangers and Eintracht

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The RANGERS meeting with Eintracht Frankfurt will rekindle a friendship between the clubs that dates back to 1960 and symbolized by – a bowler hat!

Rangers vice-chairman John F Wilson, who regularly wore a bowler hat, used to donate his hat.

In April 1960, Rangers met German champions Eintracht in the European Cup semi-finals.

The Light Blues were expected to negotiate the encounter comfortably, but they encountered an inspired team.

Much of that inspiration came from their captain, Alfred Pfaff, who scored twice in each leg of the encounter as the Germans won 12-4 on aggregate.

Showing immense respect and sportsmanship, the Rangers team formed a guard of honor to applaud their victorious opponents on the pitch.

After the match, Wilson presented his bowler hat to Pfaff and called him “Don Alfredo”, partly in tribute to Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano.

Pfaff had shown him he was just as good as the Real star and Wilson presented the hat on a silver platter.

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Eintracht would return to Glasgow to play the final in Hampden just over a week later – opponents Real Madrid.

The game would go on to become one of football‘s all-time greats and, although the Germans lost 7-3, they were undeterred and Pfaff put in another remarkable shift, scoring once again .

After the game, Wilson met up with “Don Alfredo” again and asked about the hat. It was back to Frankfurt, so Wilson duly passed another one to the Eintracht captain. The story caused a stir in Germany and became part of popular Eintracht folklore.

So much so, in fact, that fans have turned to the bowler, or ‘koks’ as it’s known in this part of the world. To this day, he still figures in fan memorabilia and establishes a link between Eintracht and Rangers.

So what happens to the hats? Don Alfredo spent one of his bowlers at Eintracht and it is now on display in the Eintracht Museum.

The other remains in the Pfaff family. While it was a tie Rangers were happy to forget, the hat-trick history and sportsmanship the club showed after a heavy defeat is still something they can be proud of.

Rangers fans were so impressed with Eintracht’s performance that they threw their support behind the team until the final.

Hopefully it will be different in Sevilla, of course, when I hope Eintracht applaud Rangers on the pitch and recall that close association established through a hat over 60 years ago.

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