The 11 Most Amazing Champions League Facts
The world's most prestigious football tournament began once again in August. Here are 11 of the most amazing Champions League facts to help inform your choice of team.
The UEFA Champions League is an annual club football tournament, and it's one of the most prestigious club competitions in the world. It was first held in 1955, known then as the European Cup—and in 1992 became known as the Champions League as it is today.
The Champions League is held each June, and it involves a preliminary round, three qualifying rounds, and a playoff round. The six teams that make it through these games join 26 other pre-qualified teams, and then they all play each other in a double round-robin system during the group stage until the winner is declared. The semi-final draw always follows the quarter-final draw, so each team is able to predict their paths through the tournament as they progress.
To prepare you for bar trivia, allowing you to prove you're well-versed in Champions League lore, here are the 11 most amazing Champions League facts.
1. Real Madrid has won the tournament 13 times, and only 22 clubs have won the tournament since it began in 1955.
Real Madrid was founded on March 6, 1902, and in 2019 it's estimated to be worth $3.9 billion, making it the highest-earning football club in the world. Real Madrid rose to a higher status in the world of football in the 1950s because they won five European Cups in a row. In Spain's domestic league, Real Madrid has won 64 trophies. And in 2004, Real Madrid was given the FIFA Order of Merit for their significant contributions to the sport.
2. The Champion's League has its own anthem.
Before each game of the tournament, "Champions League," an anthem written by Tony Britten, is played to celebrate and honor the fact that football is bringing together so many different people. It turns out that Britten adapted George Frideric Handel's "Zadok the Priest" in order to create "Champions League." The chorus of the song even has the three official languages of the tournament integrated within it; English, German, and French.
3. Supported by UEFO Foundation for Children
The UEFO Foundation supports programs dedicated to helping children all over the world by giving them the magic of football. It's a publicly governed body that operates under Swiss Law. The idea is that teaching football, and providing programs where children can look forward to football practice or games, teaches life skills that can help them make the best of their circumstances. It teaches them about perseverance and personal development, what it means to be an individual on a team, and giving them a sense of accomplishment and skill. By literally teaching the children to score a goal, they're also teaching them how to set and achieve goals in their own lives.
4. 2019s UEFA Champions League final was one for the ages.
Two English clubs played against each other; Tottenham Hotspurs, first timers in the final round, against Liverpool, who were returning to this final stage for the ninth time. This was only the seventh time two teams from the same association played against each other at this stage, and it was the first time since 2013 that Spain didn't have a club in the final. Liverpool took home the trophy, winning 2-0.
5. 79 teams will participate in the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League.
At the start of the tournament, 79 teams will be training and competing to be a part of the 32 teams that will make it into the qualifying round. The 79 teams come from 54 of the 55 UEFA member associations. The top ranking teams, for now, include Spain, England, Italy, Germany, and France.
6. UEFA Badge of Honor
Any club that wins a fifth Champions League title, or three in a row for the first time, receives the UEFA Badge of Honor. The badge is stitched on the players' uniforms and shows an image of the trophy for which all the clubs are competing, and the number inside the trophy represents the number of times that the player's club has won the trophy.
So far, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern, Liverpool, and Ajax are the most notable recipients of the UEFA Badge of Honor.
7. Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano are tied for having scored the most goals in one game.
Hat tricks be damned. In 2012, Lionel Messi of Barcelona became the only player to score five goals in one game, and some will argue he's the world's greatest soccer player—that is, until 2014 when Shakhtar Donetsk achieved the same. To this day, they both hold the record for the highest number of goals in one game.
Given the amount of time in a game of football, the number of players on the field, and the caliber of each player on those fields, this is a feat not easily matched.
8. Five English clubs have won the cup.
At this point, Liverpool has won the cup six times, Manchester United has won the cup three times, Nottingham Forest has won twice, and Aston Vill and Chelsea have both won once. English clubs also hold the record for the most consecutive victories, year after year.
In the June 2019 Champions League Final, Liverpool battled it out with Tottenham Hotspur—and in the end, Liverpool took the trophy with a score of 3-0.
9. English clubs were banned from 1986-1991.
It turns out, May 29, 1985, was a dark day for the UEFA Champions League. This was the date of what would be known as the Heysel Stadium Disaster that resulted in 39 deaths and 600 injuries. Right before a game between an Italian club (Juventus) and an English club (Liverpool), a group of Liverpool fans charged at the Juventus fans. It's disputed what it was that caused the entire situation to start, but it's clear that great damage was done. The Liverpool fans broke down a fence that had been separating the two sets of fans, and the Juventus fans ran back onto a terrace into a concrete retaining wall that collapsed—resulting in all the injuries and deaths mentioned before.
In retribution, those found responsible served jail time, and English clubs were banned from participating in the UEFA Champions League for 1986-1991.
10. The fastest goal ever recorded in the tournament occurred in under 11 seconds.
Roy Makkay, a dutch player for FC Bayern Munich, scored a goal in 10.12 seconds—the fastest the league has ever seen—a record that has lasted for 12 years!
11. Istanbul will host the 2020 Champions League Final!
The 2020 Champions League Final will take place in Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı, the largest stadium in Turkey. It was named after Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
Hopefully, these most amazing Champions League facts have enlightened and energized you in preparation for the next games. Be sure to watch the games, and pick which teams you'll support wisely!