Less than three weeks remain until Cliftonville face Nordsjælland in the First Qualifying Round of the Europa League and our mini series of continental anniversaries continues by turning the clocks back 22 years.
For it was on this very day in 1996 that the Reds enjoyed just their second ever venture into Europe and became the Irish League’s inaugural representatives in the old InterToto Cup when Belgian giants Standard Liege arrived at Solitude for an eagerly-anticipated First Round clash.
The visitors eased to a 3-0 success thanks to a double from Belgium international Michael Goossens and a strike from compatriot Roberto Bisconti en route to winning Group 1 before eliminating FC Nantes – Cliftonville’s only prior European opponents – in the Quarter Finals, only to lose out to Karlsruhe of Germany in the last four.
As for the Reds, Marty Quinn’s men finished bottom of the group but the campaign was notable for the Club registering their first goal and point in UEFA competition when Shaun Strang netted in a 1-1 draw with Hapoel Haifa in Israel seven days later.
A further week on, Paul Stokes claimed the Reds’ first ever Euro goal on home soil in a 4-1 defeat against Germany’s VfB Stuttgart before the team’s journey ended with a 4-0 loss to Aalborg in Denmark.