The UEFA Youth League was introduced to the European scene in 2013/14, the first season of a two-year trial.
The Under-19 competition is UEFA's first youth tournament at club level. Borne of a request from the European Club Association, the venture aims to further develop youth football at professional club level, reduce the gap between sides' youth and first teams and offer unique international experience and competition matches for these youngsters.
From the opening season each UEFA Champions League group stage club entered their U19 side and the autumn schedule is replicated in the UEFA Youth League: the same group stage draw and fixtures, with players having the chance to travel with their senior colleagues to away games. In 2015/16 a second path was created with 32 national youth champions competing in a knockout competition for a chance to play-off with the group runners-up to join the group winners in the knockout phase.
In the inaugural season, FC Barcelona, SL Benfica, Real Madrid CF and FC Schalke 04 were the four sides left standing. Benfica swept aside Madrid and Barça squeezed past Schalke, before La Masia's latest vintage put on a show in the final to ensure Barcelona's name would be the first one etched on the Lennart Johansson trophy. A year later Chelsea FC were champions, defeating FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.