By Ekene Dike
This season’s UEFA Champions League season commences on Tuesday night with fixtures across the continent.
Bayern Munich were the champions of Europe’s Premier club competition during the last campaign. The Germans lifted the trophy for the sixth time in their history and also went on to clinch the UEFA Super Cup. They will represent Europe in the FIFA Club World Cup later this year.
There are some scintillating facts about the Champions League which football lovers should know:
1. The fastest goal scored in the Champions League was by Bayern Munich’s Roy Makkay versus Real Madrid in 2007. The Dutch footballer Makkay scored the goal in just 10.12 seconds.
2. Real Madrid Of Spain is the most successful team in the competition’s history. Presently owned by Fiorentino Perez, the Spanish giants have won the competition 13 times. In 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018, they emerged as the undisputed champions of Europe.
3. Juventus Of Italy have participated in seven finals and lost five times which makes them the most unlucky side in the competition. The Old Lady were champions just twice in 1985 and 1996 out of seven attempts.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time top-scorer of the competition. The prolific goalscorer from Portugal, has scored 130 goals in 170 appearances so far. He scored 15 for Manchester United, 105 for Real Madrid and has bagged 10 for Juventus where he currently plies his trade.
5. Retired Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas holds the record for most appearances by any player. A career which lasted for many years, saw him participate in the Champions League from 1999-2019. He has 177 appearances to his name and featured 150 times for Real Madrid and 27 times for Portuguese outfit Fc Porto. His former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo could overtake him on the leaderboard as Ronaldo needs to play seven more games to equal the record.
6. The UEFA Champions League anthem was written by Tony Britten and is inspired by Frideric Handel’s 1727 anthem Zadok The Priest. UEFA commissioned Britten to orchestrate an anthem in 1992 and he delivered.
7. Spanish football clubs have won the most competitions in Europe, which is 18 times. England come in second by winning the Champions League a total of 13 times. Italy has 12 titles. Germany has a win of 8 Netherlands, a win of 6 and Portugal, a win of 4. France, Scotland, Romania and Yugoslavia all winning at least once.
8. The UEFA Champions League was founded in 1955, but the current format has been around since 1992. It was formerly known as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup.
9. Real Madrid won the maiden edition of the Champions League(known then as the European Cup) in 1956 after defeating Stade De Reims in the final. From three goals down, the Galaticos staged a dramatic comeback by winning 4-3
10. The first goal in European Cup history was scored by João Baptista Martins of Sporting CP on September 4, 1955 in a match between Sporting CP and Partizan which ended in a 3-3 draw.