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Former champions honoured

UEFA presented commemorative plaques to the 21 clubs that have won the European Champion Clubs' Cup at today's UEFA Champions League draw in Nyon.

Draw presentation
UEFA President Lennart Johansson made the presentations at the draw for the last 16 of this season's UEFA Champions League in Nyon, Switzerland. "It is 50 years since the first match was played in this fantastic tournament, on 4 September 1955, and we thought it was appropriate to celebrate 50 years of European club football history," said Mr Johansson.

Unique and lasting contribution
"These are the clubs that have had the honour of lifting this famous trophy, or indeed its earlier predecessor, and some on more than one occasion," he added, pointing out that the sides had made a unique and lasting contribution to the European game. "Football is all about the matches, the players and the memories. It is about the history, the heritage and the magical moments that are the best of European football," he added.

Paris setting
UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson said: "It is not by coincidence that this year's final will be staged at the Stade de France in Paris, for it will be 50 years ago exactly, in 1956, that the first final was staged in Paris at the Parc des Princes. We thought it very appropriate to return to the same city that hosted that very first final in order to mark this special occasion."

Champions of Europe
Mr Olsson continued: "The competition that we have now, the UEFA Champions League, has come a long way from those early days. But in essence, the main elements that characterise the competition have remained the same - the best football clubs in Europe competing against each other for the outright winner to be crowned champions of Europe.

Quality and excitement
"More recently television has enabled the great matches and dramas on the field - none more so than last year's final - to be beamed into the fans' living rooms, and the players have now become household names in their own right," Mr Olsson went on. "But it is in the quality and excitement of the football and of the matches themselves that this competition's strength lies. As long as we stay true to the action on the pitch, we cannot go far wrong."