The Feijenoord Stadion in Rotterdam set the stage for an electrifying clash between Feyenoord of the Netherlands and Borussia Dortmund of Germany on 8 May 2002. The highly anticipated match marked the 31st UEFA Cup final and carried a significant historical weight, as it was the first time the final had been hosted at the home ground of one of the finalists since the introduction of single-legged finals in the UEFA Cup in 1998.
Feyenoord, eager to recapture their European glory of the 1970s, last secured a European trophy in 1974 by defeating Tottenham Hotspur to clinch the UEFA Cup, four years after their European Cup triumph. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund, having already claimed the Bundesliga title, aspired to become the second German club, and the fourth overall, to achieve the remarkable feat of winning all three pre-1999 major European trophies, including the European Cup/Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League, and the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup, having triumphed in the 1965-66 European Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1996-97 UEFA Champions League.
The final lived up to its billing, with Feyenoord ultimately emerging triumphant with a 3-2 victory, marking the first European title for a Dutch club in seven years since Ajax’s UEFA Champions League triumph in 1995. Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund embarked on their European campaigns in the 2001-02 Champions League, entering the 2001-02 UEFA Cup in the third round after finishing third in their respective Champions League groups. The match witnessed a brilliant display from the competition’s top scorers, with Feyenoord’s Pierre van Hooijdonk and Borussia Dortmund’s Márcio Amoroso leaving their mark on the scoresheet. Notably, Feyenoord’s Van Hooijdonk netted two goals, while Amoroso contributed one goal to the enthralling encounter.
The final held sentimental significance for Borussia Dortmund veteran Jürgen Kohler, who bid farewell to his illustrious career post the match. However, Kohler’s final appearance was marred by a red card just 31 minutes into the game. The encounter marked the third meeting between the two sides in European competition, with their prior encounters in the 1999-2000 UEFA Champions League resulting in draws. Borussia Dortmund received a pre-match boost with the news that Stefan Reuter had successfully passed a late fitness test on his injured back, adding an extra layer of anticipation and excitement to the pulsating showdown.