U is for...

uefa.com's A to Z countdown to the UEFA Champions League final continues with the ultimate Us.

As uefa.com Action's A to Z countdown to the UEFA Champions League final on 25 May continues, it is time for some great Us.

UEFA was founded in Basel, Switzerland, on 15 June 1954, bringing to fruition the pioneering vision of a handful of key football administrators of the time. Since then, the parent body of European football - one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA - has grown into the cornerstone of the game on this continent.

Over the past fifteen years in particular European football has experienced positive growth and development. UEFA itself is now housed in the state of the art House of European Football in Nyon, near Geneva in western Switzerland, and has been responsible for the current format of the UEFA Champions League from the old two legged European Champion Clubs' Cup.

In its jubilee year last year UEFA presided over UEFA EURO 2004™, the most successful UEFA European Championship tournament so far and it will continue to invest in all aspects of the game right down to grassroots level, making it one of the worlds great footballing powers.

There are several clubs that have earned the tag of underachievers over the years as far as the Champions League goes. Take French clubs for a start. Olympique de Marseille won the inaugural Champions League final and the following season AS Monaco FC made it to the semi-finals as did FC Nantes Stlantique and Paris Saint-Germain FC, but it took until last season for Monaco to become France's second Champions League finalists.

Arsène Wenger's Arsenal have also become past masters at falling short in the competition, habitually roaring through the first group stage before coming a cropper in the later rounds, as they did this season with a last-16 defeat against FC Bayern München. However, their performance has been typical of Premiership clubs.

Despite the might of the Premiership, only Manchester United FC and now Liverpool FC have ever reached the Champions League final, which considering the record of English clubs in European competitions in the 1970s and 1980s, is a record that shows considerable room for improvement.

For those who underachieve in the third qualifying round or the group stage of the Champions League, the UEFA Cup often provides a second chance at glory, and this season, PFC CSKA Moskva followed in the footsteps of 2003/04 runners-up Olympique de Marseille in going from the a third placed finish in their Champions League group all the way to the UEFA Cup final.

On a few occasions, both sides in the UEFA Cup final have dropped into the competition from the Champions League. Feyenoord won a battle of Champions League drop-outs in 2001/02 as they beat BV Borussia Dotmund 3-2, and it was the same story in 2000/01 as Galatasaray SK overcame Arsenal FC on penalties after a goalless final in Copenhagen.