The 1971 Football League Cup Final took place in February 1971 at Wembley Stadium. It was the eleventh Football League Cup final and the fifth to be played at Wembley.
It was contested between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. Tottenham Hotspur was riding high in the First Division (as the top level of league football in England was then known) and Aston Villa, the most successful club of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras and a traditional heavyweight, was in the Third Division (then the third tier of English football), a level to which it had never previously sunk.
Despite the disparity in the teams' league positions, Aston Villa dominated proceedings, as confirmed by match reports of the time and the official Big Match highlights which can be viewed on YouTube. According to Peter Morris, in his Aston Villa: The First 100 Years (1974) the team was so impressive that "it was hard to believe they were the same players" who contested Third Division matches. Creating several scoring opportunities, Villa saw a shot by Andy Lochhead cleared off the line and another by Ian 'Chico' Hamilton hit the angle of post and bar with the goalkeeper beaten. However, Spurs' league standing eventually told, as Martin Chivers, who as Morris says had "hardly kicked the ball all afternoon", scored Tottenham's first on 79 minutes after the ball was deflected into his path close in by the Villa goalkeeper, John Dunn, whilst making a save. Three minutes later Chivers scored a second, running through a Villa defence worn out by its efforts at marking him. The match finished 2–0 to Spurs.
Tottenham Hotspur, having been presented with the cup despite being outplayed for almost the whole match, took it to the end where their supporters were gathered. Eyewitnesses (cf. Aston Jennings, late of Ealing Race Equality Council) recall that a number of the Spurs fans were laughing at their players rather than cheering. The beaten Aston Villa players however embarked on a lap of honour around the stadium and were greeted by what Morris described as "the greatest ovation ever given to a losing team at Wembley" (op cit). The Birmingham Evening Mail headlined its report "The day that Villa might have won it", as publicly available file copies confirm.
This match signalled the reversal of a long period of decline for Villa. Ten years later they were champions of England and the following year they had become the champions of Europe.