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From Handel to Hala Madrid: music of champions

Showing how the UEFA Champions League is a competition for all the senses, Champions Matchday looks at some of the music integral to the world's top club competition.

The UEFA Champions League music stirs Gareth Bale's senses
The UEFA Champions League music stirs Gareth Bale's senses ©Getty Images

Every team has its songs and chants, some so synonymous with clubs that they almost become like a second badge. In this UEFA Champions League campaign, fans' spirits have already been lifted by the work of Handel, Richard Rodgers and, inevitably, the Village People.

The official anthem
The stirring overture to the UEFA Champions League is based on George Frideric Handel's Zadok The Priest, first heard at the coronation in London of King George II in 1727, 265 years before it was adapted by British composer Tony Britten and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin In The Fields Chorus. Britten was asked to write something serious and classical because, back then, the Three Tenors were hugely popular after their performance at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. The official UEFA Champions League anthem is now almost as iconic as the trophy.

Stern des Südens
The official anthem of FC Bayern München, Stern des Südens (Star Of The South) was written by Bavarian musician and composer Willy Astor and the Roten's stadium announcer Stephan Lehmann in 1998. "FC Bayern, star of the south, you'll never go down," runs the chorus, "because we stand by each other in good and bad times. FC Bayern, that's the name of my club, yes, that's it, and always will be."

You'll Never Walk Alone
A British No1 hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers in November 1963, You'll Never Walk Alone became the anthem of Liverpool FC when fans on the Kop sang along to the record as it was played over the PA before matches. Lo, a tradition was born! The song was originally written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for their 1945 musical Carousel, and has since been embraced by supporters of Borussia Dortmund and Celtic FC, among others.

Seven Nation Army
The seven-note guitar riff of this 2003 hit for indie-rock duo The White Stripes was first adopted as a football chant by fans of Club Brugge KV during a UEFA Champions League match at AC Milan. Liverpool supporters used it to honour their former midfield talisman Javier Mascherano, and it is played after every goal scored by Bayern at the Fußball Arena München. "Nothing is more beautiful than when people embrace a melody and allow it to enter the pantheon of folk music," said The White Stripes' Jack White.

Go West
A disco hit for the Village People in 1979, Go West was revived by the Pet Shop Boys in 1993. It was first adopted by fans of Paris Saint-Germain ("Allez Paris Saint-Germain!"), before the Arsenal FC faithful began singing "1-0 to the Arsenal!" to the tune. It has since been reprised and reworked by supporters of countless clubs, prompting Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant to remark: "Who would have thought an obscure Village People song covered by the Pet Shop Boys would become the song of football? It's fantastic."

Richard Rodgers
Richard Rodgers©Getty Images

Blue Moon
This famous ballad is belted out by Manchester City FC fans at every game. Written in 1934 by Lorenz Hart and the ubiquitous Richard Rodgers, it was first sung by the blue half of Manchester 25 years ago, according to City historian Gary James. "The first time I recall it being sung was at the opening match of the 1989/90 season at Liverpool," he says. "The fans were kept behind after the match and a few lads started singing it as we made our way out. They sang a sort of melancholic version and it caught on."

¡Hala Madrid!
The original score of Real Madrid CF's official anthem was scribbled on a restaurant napkin by singer José de Aguilar, after composing the song on a train from Aranjuez to Madrid back in 1952. A few weeks later, he was in the studios of Columbia Records recording the song with the National Orchestra of Spain. The chorus translates as "Forward Madrid, noble and warlike champions, knights of honour! Forward Madrid, to succeed in a fair fight, defending your colours!" It has been Madrid's anthem ever since.

Champions Matchday is the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League and is available in print or free to download in digital format. You can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.

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