If Leicester City and Atletico Madrid meet next season, it will be far from the first time

Team 33's Raf Diallo looks at the 1961-62 Cup Winners Cup meeting between the sides on The World Is A Ball

Leicester City, 1961

Leicester City in 1961 Picture by: PA Photos / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Once upon a time, in a continent not far away lived a competition called the European Cup Winners Cup.

And when that competition outlived its usefulness, it was abolished. The growth of the UEFA Champions League has either killed off or reduced the importance of other continental tournaments, but Leicester City won't be complaining.

The Foxes will be playing in the competition after their fairytale Premier League title win and at least they have qualified as actual champions. 

Could they do what neighbours Nottingnham Forest managed in the late '70s during the European Cup era or what Atletico Madrid have achieved by reaching two Champions League finals in a short space of time this season?

Unlikely, but Leicester have already proven us all - with the exception of some gamblers - wrong. And they do share some traits with Diego Simeone's Atletico side which defeated Bayern Munich on aggregate.

Grit and determination are hallmarks of both sides, with strong defences and an emphasis on counter-attacking at speed.

Perhaps they might get drawn into the same group next season. But it wouldn't be the first time, Leicester and Atletico have gone head to head in Europe.

You'd have to go back over 50 years to the 1961-62 season when they met in the old Cup Winners Cup. Atletico had won the 1961 Copa del Generalisimo which is the old name for the Copa del Rey in the era when General Franco still ruled Spain as dictator.

Meanwhile, Leicester took part in the competition because they had lost to double-winning Tottenham in the 1961 FA Cup, which mirrors this season in opposite fashion when it comes to the Premier League as Spurs were the side who got closest to them in 2015-16.

But back to 1961 when Leicester breezed past Northern Ireland's Glevavon 7-2 on aggregate in the Cup Winners Cup preliminary round and Atletico also scored seven as they knocked out France's Sedan 7-3.

That set up a first round tie between the English and Spanish sides. The Leicester squad of that era featured 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks as the only full international - although he hadn't won his first England cap by then. 

The first leg took place at Leicester's old Filbert Street ground and saw Ken Keyworth, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 65, give the Foxes a second half lead.

Leicester City's Neil Lennon (right) is fouled by Atletico Madrid's Juan Vizcaino (centre) in their 1997 encounter. Picture by: Matthew Ashton / EMPICS Sport

But Angola-born Portuguese striker Jorge Alberto Mendonça Paulino equalised with just two minutes to go to leave the scores at 1-1.

Atletico didn't find the net until the second half when the teams met again in Madrid a couple of weeks later.

But goals by former Spain international Enrique Collar Monterrubio and Equatorial Guinea-born Miguel Jones Castillo allowed Atletico to advance 3-1 on aggregate, in a competition they would end up winning by beating Fiorentina in the final.

It was a first taste of Europe for Leicester and coincidentally the next time they qualified for continental competition again in 1997-98, guess who they faced?

Atletico were the side that had the honour of knocking them out.

You can read more from The World Is A Ball series every Wednesday on Newstalk.com. To find past articles, head to the Team 33 show page.