The iPro Stadium has been witness to some of the world’s greatest talent and teams since it opened in 1997.

The iPro Stadium has been witness to some of the world’s greatest talent and teams since it opened in 1997.

From Jurgen Klinsmann, Luis Enrique, Xavi, Hernan Crespo and Samuel Eto’o – some of the players that went on to be renowned as some of the world’s greatest have graced the home of the Rams.

Tomorrow, the stars from Europa League contenders, Villarreal, will be the latest to visit the iPro Stadium and looks back on all of the Rams’ previous European clashes on their home turf…

The Rams 0-1 Sampdoria – 4 August 1997

With their new stadium built and ready for action, Derby County welcomed Italian outfit Sampdoria for their first ever game at the then named Pride Park ahead of their second season in the Barclays Premier League.

Boasting talents such as Juan Sebastien Veron and Jurgen Klinsmann in their starting line-up, the visitors ran out 1-0 winners in front of the biggest crowd for a Derby fixture in 20 years through Vincenzo Montella’s strike.

The game also saw new signings Francesco Baiano and Stefano Eranio make their home bows.

Under Jim Smith, the Rams went on to finish ninth in the top flight to follow on from their 12th place position they achieved the year before.

The Rams 1-3 Barcelona – 7 August 1998

A year after the Sampdoria clash, the Rams welcomed not only one of Spain’s, but the world’s, biggest side’s as European giants Barcelona took to the iPro Stadium pitch for the first time.

Managed by Louis Van Gaal, Captained by Portuguese legend Luis Figo and with five stars from the 1998 World Cup on the substitutes’ bench, the Catalan side established a two goal lead through current Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique, and Oscar Garcia.

Paulo Wanchope halved the deficit in a pulsating contest, before Brazilian striker Andersen restored the two goal advantage.

The Rams 0-0 CSKA Moscow – 30 July 1999

Sporting their new yellow and blue away kit, Jim Smith’s Derby side welcomed Russian outfit CSKA Moscow to their home ground ahead of 1999/2000 season.

Hard fought to the bitter-end, both sides played out a goalless draw.

The Rams 1-2 Athletic Bilbao – 11 August 2000

Athletic Bilbao became the second Spanish side to take on the Rams in a pre-season friendly in as many years, with this one proving to be closer than the last.

Stefano Eranio fired Jim Smith’s side in front after 32 minutes, before two quick fire goals from the visitors turned the contest around.

Urzaiz equalised with a low shot that went under Mart Poom, before Julen Guerrero fired Bilbao in front two minutes after the half time interval.

The Rams 0-3 Barcelona – 10 August 2001

Back in Derbyshire after the success of the first meeting between the two sides, Catalan giants, Barcelona, again brought their stars to the iPro Stadium ahead of the 2001/02 campaign.

Like the first meeting, Barcelona brought with them a raft of some of the biggest names in the game like Frank de Boer, Phillip Cocu and Marc Overmars.

The contest, though, was effectively over after just 16 minutes as they raced into a two-goal lead through Patrick Kluivert’s brace and Giovanni’s strike on an afternoon where Fabrizio Ravanelli made his home bow.

The Rams 1-2 Lazio – 5 August 2002

After hosting Russian and Spanish outfits in each of the last four summers, Derby County faced Italian opposition for the first time since 1997 with Lazio coming to town ahead of the 2002/03 season.

Again, some of the world’s most renowned stars were out on the pitch, with the likes of Massimo Oddo, Alessandro Nesta, Diego Simeone, Hernan Crespo and Filippo Inzaghi named in the starting XI for the fixture.

The visitors led at the half time interval through Guerrino Gottardi, but as the game wore on, the home, side grew in confidence and equalised through Adam Murray.

Lazio returned to Italy with the victory under their belts, though, as Argentine international Crespo lashed an effort beyond Poom.

The Rams 2-2 Ajax – 25 July 2003

The summer of 2003 saw Derby County, unusually, host two European opponents inside a week with Eredivisie runner-ups and Champions League Quarter-Finalists, Ajax, the first to face the Rams.

Managed by Ronald Koeman and captained by Rafael van der Vaart, Ajax took the lead through Cedric van der Gun.

Derby fought back, though, through Izale McLeod and Ian Taylor, the Captain, but Nicola Mitea’s strike four minutes from time denied the Rams, under the guidance of George Burley, a standout victory.

Derby County 3-1 RCD Mallorca – 3 August 2003

A week later, Derby welcomed Spanish opponents back to the iPro Stadium as RCD Mallorca travelled to challenge Burley and his side in their final game before the new campaign.

Following on from his strike against Ajax, Izale McLeod bagged two goals, missed a penalty and set up Gianfranco Tome to notch the other as the Rams established a three-goal lead.

An up and coming striker going by the name of Samuel Eto’o scored a late consolation goal as the Rams recorded their first victory over European opponents since the opening of their new stadium.

The Rams 2-2 RCD Espanyol – 4 August 2007

Back in the Barclays Premier League, Derby County warmed up for their season opener against Portsmouth with a 2-2 draw with UEFA Cup Finalists RCD Espanyol.

The Rams took the lead against Ernesto Valverde’s side via Marc Torrejón’s own goal four minutes before the interval.

Sanchez and Luis Garcia turned the game on its head and with the game looking likely to finish 2-1 to the outfit from Spain, Steve Howard struck to ensure Derby came with a draw.

The Rams 2-2 FC Utrecht – 2 August 2008

The last time Derby faced European opposition at the iPro Stadium was back in 2008, as they warmed up for the new Championship season with a 2-2 draw with FC Utrecht.

Leroy George gave the Dutch side the lead after just 16 minutes, but Kris Commons equalised with a header at the near post just two minutes later.

The Rams were ahead just before the interval as Nathan Ellington struck from the penalty spot after Kees Van Buren brought down triallist Andriy Pereplyotkin.

Utrecht returned to Holland with a draw, though, as Gregoor Van Dijk scored from the penalty spot, which narrowly beat Roy Carroll, following a foul by Jay McEveley.


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