The UEFA Europa League may feature some names that are unfamiliar to European football fans, but as UEFA.com discovers, the round of 16 sides' badges are a good indication of their noble heritage.
FC Anji Makhachkala
Founded in 1991, Anji's name means 'pearl' in the local Kumyk language, and is a former name of their home city, Makhachkala – capital of Russia's Dagestan region. The club's crest reflects regional ties too – the eagle on the badge and the red, blue and green flag come from Dagestan's coat of arms, with the mountain symbolising the region's topography: locals are called Highlanders.
FC Basel 1893
Basel shirts bear the slogan: 'Rot isch unseri Liebi, Blau die ewigi Treui, Basel unseri Stadt' (Red is our love, blue forever true, Basel our city). Exactly why Basel wear red and blue is a mystery, but there is some suggestion they were inspired by the claret and blue of Aston Villa FC. Some also believe that former Basel player Joan Gamper took the colours with him when he founded FC Barcelona.
Benfica's scarlet tops and motto ('E Pluribus Unum' – one out of many) were decided at the Lisbon club's founding meeting in 1904, with the Eagle immediately adopted as their symbol. The Eagle on the badge has a living counterpart, with a bald eagle – the Aguia Vitória (victory eagle) – being routinely flown around the Stadium of Light before home games.
FC Girondins de Bordeaux
While Bordeaux's navy blue and white have remained unchanged since the club's formation in 1881, two later additions have made their emblem distinctive. The first is the chevron (or V shape), which first featured on the shirt when Bordeaux turned professional in 1938 and was also included in the crest; the second are the three embedded crescents at the badge's centre, the symbol of the city of Bordeaux as they represent the path of the Garonne river through the city centre.
Originally, Chelsea's badge carried an image of a Chelsea pensioner – a reference to the retired soldiers who live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea – but the team eventually took on a new symbol, the lion derived from the Arms of Earl Cadogan, who was president of the club. The staff is that of the Abbot of Westminster whose jurisdiction extended over the glamorous London borough.
Designed by former player Hikmet Topuzer, this crest is made up of five colours. The white section represents purity and an open heart; the red section, love and attachment to the club, as well as the Turkish flag; the yellow section alludes to the envy of others; while the navy symbolises nobility. The oak leaf that rises from the navy and yellow signifies the power of being a member of Fenerbahçe; its green colour denotes their successes.
FC Internazionale Milano
Created in 1908 by painter Giorgio Muggiani, one of the club's founders, Inter's first badge incorporated the letters 'FCIM' at the centre of several ever-decreasing circles. If the finer details have been altered over the years – between 1979 and 1990 it had a white snake, the symbol of Milan in tribute to the Sforza family who ruled the city during the Renaissance – the crest's basic elements have remained constant.
Lazio's emblem shows a golden eagle perched on a shield which displays the club's colours of sky blue and white – themselves inspired by those of Greece and, in turn, the ancient Olympic Games. The eagle stands for the legions of the Roman Empire and has given rise to the team's nicknames of Aquile (Eagles) and Aquilotti (Young Eagles).
Updated for their centenary in 2009, Levante's badge marries their blue and scarlet colours – established after a merger with Gimnástico in 1939 – with the symbol of the Valencia region: the bat (more than 20 species are said to inhabit this part of Spain's east coast). Despite the bat, Levante's nickname is the Frogs (Granotes), recalling when they played home matches on the banks of the Turia river.
Newcastle United FC
Newcastle's crest mirrors that of their city; the two seahorses reflect its links to the North Sea, while the castle on top is a depiction of the Norman keep that gave Newcastle its name. The club's own moniker, the Magpies, refers to the black and white shirts they have worn since being established in 1892 through the union of Newcastle East End FC and Newcastle West End FC.
FC Viktoria Plzeň
The Czech team's logo borrows both from the blue and red stripes of their home shirt, and from the white, yellow, green and red squares that constitute the colours of the city of Plzen. These were added to the original version of the crest, since Viktoria are Plzen's only big club.
FC Rubin Kazan
The current Rubin emblem was conceived in 1996 when their patron became mayor of Kazan. It consists of a shield featuring the club's name, the mythical dragon Zilant in the centre, and the red and green of the Tatarstan flag draped around the outside.
FC Steaua Bucureşti
Steaua were founded in June 1947 by officers of the Romanian Royal Army. Initially the 'Sports Association of the Army', the club became CSA Steaua in late 1961. The red star on their badge has since been replaced by a yellow star on a red and blue background – a nod to the Romanian national flag. Above are two smaller stars, each announcing ten of the side's 23 league titles.
Stuttgart's crest shows three stag antlers in a golden shield, a motif dating back to medieval times when it was popularised by upper-class families in order to display affiliation to the Wurttemberg region. Originally a rugby club, Stuttgart did not establish a football section until 1908. The red band on their tops was the idea of youth players in the 1920s, and has subsequently become iconic.
Tottenham Hotspur FC
The Hotspur in Tottenham's name references Sir Henry Percy, aka Harry Hotspur, one of the great British soldiers of the later Middle Ages. Celebrated in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I, Hotspur's fighting cocks wore riding spurs too, and one of these cockerels figures on the north London side's crest – and in a bronze cast at their White Hart Lane home.
FC Zenit St Petersburg
Originally a steelworks team, Zenit (literally, summit) gained their current name in 1940 when the factory came under the control of the People's Commissariat for Arms and Ammunition. The stylised arrowhead depiction of their logo has persisted ever since, and this now also bears a ship – in recognition of St Petersburg being home to the Russian navy.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.