Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Friday, 4 June 2010 17:44 UK

'The stolen European Cup? My friend took it'

By Shari Vahl

Twenty-eight years after the most prized piece of silverware in European club football went missing from a West Midlands pub, the mystery of who took the trophy has been revealed.

Adrian Reed with European Cup
Adrian Reed, then 28, took the trophy home before giving it to police

Until recent pictures gave the game away, the disappearance and subsequent recovery of the European Cup - in Sheffield, in May 1982, when Aston Villa were the champions - has only been known to a small group of people, most of them police officers, as told in the Magazine.

After a man turned up at the police station with the prestigious club prize, the officers spent the night in question staging their own European Cup final - the prize being the feted piece of silverware itself.

But until now, the identity of the man who stole the Cup - who gave his name to police as Eric Sykes - has been a mystery.
Mick Greenough was the officer on duty that night at West Bar Police station in Sheffield. A Mr Sykes turned up, saying he had the European Cup in his car. "So off he trotted and next thing the swing doors go and there he is at the front desk with the European Cup, with claret and blue ribbons on."

Mr Sykes told him he had taken it from a pub about 100 miles away, when then 22-year-old Aston Villa left back, Colin Gibson, along with midfielder Gordon Cowans, brought the gleaming trophy home after a one-nil victory against Bayern Munich in Rotterdam.

Shari Vahl told the story on You & Yours, Friday 4 June on Radio 4
Listen to it here

Until now, no-one knew who this Mr Sykes might have been. Roger Grey says his then 28-year-old flatmate, Adrian Reed, was the culprit, and everyone was in "disbelief" and "amazed" when he came home with the trophy.

"My recollection is Adrian turned up late one night, and came in holding the European Cup.

"They had had a few drinks, and unfortunately the European Cup fell down the stairs, and incurred a few dints and a twisted handle.

"It's very big and very heavy and I guess after a few drinks people perhaps weren't as careful with it as they should have been, and photographs were taken to prove the event had happened."

Police at West Bar Police station in Sheffield
The football-mad officers decided to stage their own European Cup final

He thinks his friend "spontaneously borrowed" the Cup to "show his friends what he'd done".

"He was a loveable rogue, he would do anything for his friends, a really nice bloke. He was so charming he could talk the hind legs off a donkey."

Mr Grey says he and his friends persuaded Mr Reed to hand himself in to the police, but had no idea the officers on night shift had played a game of football for the prize.

"I thought that was amazing, because we used to have a standing joke that the last two holders of the European Cup were Aston Villa and Adrian Reed, but now we have to add a load of West Bar policemen to that little list as well."

Mr Grey lost touch with his friend in the 1980s, and believes he may have been killed in a car crash a number of years ago.

Police say no charges were brought against Mr Reed, and for 28 years this story has been kept a secret between those involved.

It has only come to light now because the photographs were discovered at the station, which is being cleared out and closed down.

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