Have you ever wondered how a lot of things began or came about? Things like the earth, religion, education, UEFA Champions League etc.? Then you are no different to anyone. I have also wondered about how the UEFA Champions league came about and I hope you do too. The 2017/18 Champions league final is a few days. It is going to be played between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
As the clock tick in anticipation of the finals in Kiev, let’s look at how the Competition began.
It is an annual continental club football competition the Union of European Football Associations organizes. It is contested by the top European clubs in the various divisions. The UEFA Champions league was born some 63 years ago. Before its current name it used to be called the European cup or European Champions clubs’ cup. It run under that name until 1992 when it was rebranded.
UEFA Champions League’s Humble Beginning.
Even before the European cup there was an attempt to create a cup for clubs in Europe. It was the Challenge cup founded in 1897 which was competed between clubs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the failure of the Challenge cup, the Mitropa Cup or Central European cup came into being in 1927. It was pioneered by Hugo Meisl and played between Central European clubs. The Mitropa cup did not fare much either and was replaced by the Coupe des Nation (Nations Cup) in 1930.
It attempted to create a cup for champions of the European Nations. The first tournament was held in Geneva and comprised 10 champions from Europe. Like the Mitropa Cup the Coupe des Nations wasn’t so successful. Gabriel Hanot editor of L’Equipe successfully persuaded UEFA to form a continent-wide tournament. It was born in Paris as the European Champions clubs’ cup in 1955.
Development of the UEFA Champions League.
After the successful implementation of the idea, the first edition of the cup took place in the 1955/56 season. 16 teams participated in the tournament. They were from Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, Scotland, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, West Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Hungary and France. The 1st match took place on 4th September 1955 between Sporting CP and Partizan which ended in a 3 all draw. Joao Baptista Martins of Sportin CP scored the 1st goal in the tournament’s history.
The finals of the tournament took place at Parc des Princes, the current home of PSG. It was between Stade de Reims and Real Madrid, a match Real Madrid won by 4 goals to 3. This made Real Madrid the first winners of the Competition. They successfully defended their title against Fiorentina in at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid won the subsequent three editions of the tournament to push their wins to 5. They did so by beating Milan, Stade de Reims and Eintracht Frankfurth in 1958, 1959 and 1960 respectively.
The 1960 finals was special because it recorded 10 goals, the most goals in a final. It also resulted in a record that still stands today, a five consecutive titles by Real Madrid. Benfica of Portugal dethroned Real Madrid from their perch when they won it for consecutive seasons. That was in 1961 and 1962. From the years leading to 1992 the competition has been won by Internazionale, Milan, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern, and Ajax. Manchester United, Juventus, Nottingham Forest, Porto, Celtic, Hamburg, Steaua Bucuresti have all won the title. The list includes Feyenoord, Aston Villa, PSV Eindhoven and Red Star Belgrade.
Rebranding of the UEFA Champions League.
After the 1991/92 edition of the Europeans cup, the tournament was rebranded as the UEFA Champions League. It was rebranded to move from it old format where only champions of a Nation participated. The new format which went along with a new name gave domestic runners-up the opportunity to take part. Television contracts also had something to do with the rebranding. More teams were included as the competition went on. Under the new name and format there have been new winners. They include Chelsea of England, Marseille of France and Borussia Dortmund of Germany.
In the present format, the UEFA Champions league begins in mid-July. The three knock-out qualifying rounds and play-off round are played before the competition proper starts in September. The winners of those knock-out matches joins the teams which qualified outright in the group stages.
Record Holders of the UEFA Champions League.
Spanish club Real Madrid dominate the champions’ league with a record 12 titles. They will be looking to go one better in Kiev. Spanish clubs also have the most win with 17 titles. Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal has the most goals in the competition with 120. Iker Casillas have made 171 appearances in the competition, the most of any player.
What It Means Today.
Today the UEFA Champions League is the dream of footballers, coaches, supporters and football teams alike. They put in their all to win the trophy year after year, season after season. Teams break their transfer records to sign new and talented players all in the name of winning the trophy. That is the reason the transfer market is crazy or absurd. Players and Coaches moved clubs to win it whiles Clubs change managers and players to succeed.
The fight and determination go on until the season ends and 2018 is no different. A host of clubs started the fight back in July 2017 but only two teams remain in the ring. They are Real Madrid of Spain and Liverpool of England. They are going to continue that old age fight to annex the trophy in Kiev. Whatever happens in Kiev will only add to the rich and envious history of the competition. What do you think about the history of the UEFA Champions League? Is it rich or special enough? Your views, comments and suggestions are welcomed. Share the article to reach everyone.
FYA SPORTS: Because you and I love Sports.
By: Fredrick Adehe.