LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Atletico Madrid's only previous European Cup final appearance branded the club with the nickname that has come to encapsulate its penchant for misfortune.
Beating Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday may finally put that moniker to rest.
Atletico was on the cusp of winning the European Cup on its first appearance in the final in 1974, leading Bayern Munich 1-0 in extra time after Luis Aragones curled home in the 114th-minute at Heysel Stadium.
The Spanish club was clinging on until defender Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck stepped up to smash home a powerful right-footed equalizer from outside the area in the 120th-minute.
Without penalties to decide the champion, a replay was scheduled just two days later in Brussels. But having experienced the title slipping from its grasp in such fashion proved too much for Atletico, and it lost 4-0 to a team featuring Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Mueller.
Following the defeat, team President Vicente Calderon termed Atletico "the jinxed ones" or "pupas."
"We practically had the trophy in our hands," said Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Reina, father of Spain international Pepe, reminiscing of what could have been before Schwarzenbeck's low shot beat him.
The loss seems to have had a long-lasting effect on the club.
"Atletico's history may have been different with that title, which was the first for Bayern," said former striker Jose Eulogio Garate, who played in that final 40 years ago.
Atletico's history is filled with success and clouded by unnecessary turmoil and disorder.
Such is Atletico's knack for dramatics that the team hymn includes the phrase: "What a Way to Suffer."
One of the most famous advertising campaigns in Spain featured a young child looking up at his father to ask "Daddy, why do we support Atleti?" The father looks off in thought before the phrase "It's hard to explain" takes over the screen.
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