With the eagerly awaited UEFA Champions League final almost upon us, the official UEFA Champions League magazine Champions celebrates the showpiece event of the European club football calendar.
Finalists FC Barcelona boast Lionel Messi, already surely one of the all-time greats and still only 23, though off the field he remains just one of the boys. Champions explores his record-breaking season and talks to one of the players with the task of stopping him at Wembley Stadium – Manchester United FC midfielder Michael Carrick.
The dossier recalls 21 stellar performances in European finals – from Alfredo Di Stéfano to Wesley Sneijder – and we showcase some of the competition's best-loved images.
Champions goes incognito to explore the world of the opposition scout; asks what makes a big-game player; gives a spotters' guide to club investors; and speaks exclusively with UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh on the art of finding space.
This is the sixth time the final has been played at Wembley in London – and Champions relives the previous occasions. Nereo Rocco led AC Milan to the pinnacle in 1963 as the first Italian coach to lift the European Champion Clubs' Cup. We also remember the legend of George Best, a winner with Manchester United in 1968, and how three years later the flying Dutchmen of AFC Ajax began a Total Football revolution built on an iron back four. In 1978 Bob Paisley steered Liverpool FC to victory for a second successive year, while in 1992 a young Josep Guardiola triumphed with Barcelona, an unprecedented joy for the Catalan outfit.
Plus interviews with FC Schalke 04 boss Ralf Ragnick; AC Milan's player of the season Thiago Silva; Helmut Ducadam, a European Cup hero with FC Steaua Bucureşti in 1986; and Stevan Stojanović from FC Crvena zvezda's 1991 vintage.
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