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Champions League Final: Wembley Stadium to make history

Iconic London venue will host European football's showpiece occasion for a record eighth time

The Wembley Stadium home of the England football team

After an 11-year hiatus the Champions League Final returns to London’s Wembley Stadium for a record eighth time on Saturday night.

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That is double the number of finals hosted at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, the San Siro in Milan and Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

On the biggest stage of all, the lights shine the brightest, which is why it’s surprising that despite having appeared in 17 finals, winning 14 of them, Real Madrid will be making their first appearance at Wembley.

Dortmund, who won the trophy in Munich in 1997, also played in the most recent final to be held under the arch in 2013, though they were edged-out by Bayern Munich on that night.

Two Spanish sides, two English, one German, one Dutch and a Portuguese club have all lifted the famous old trophy at the ‘home of football’ – but who were they?

Let’s take a stroll down Wembley Way’s memory lane, shall we?

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The first Wembley final came in 1963 when powerhouses Benfica were toppled by Milan

Eusebio – who else – gave the Portuguese the lead with his sixth goal of the competition but two goals in eight second-half minutes from Jose Altafini turned the game on its head. The Italian ended as the competition’s top scorer with 14 goals.

Just five years later the showpiece was held under the Twin Towers for a second time.

Manchester United toppled Benfica 4-1 after extra-time with Bobby Charlton scoring twice, George Best getting one and Brian Kidd the other infront of a crowd of more than 92,000.

Three years later Ajax won the first of their three straight titles with a 2-0 win over Panathinaikos at Wembley with goals in the opening and closing few minutes from Dick van Dijk and Arie Haan.

It was seven years before the European Cup Final returned to London in 1978 and it was once again an English side who prevailed on home soil.

Liverpool won the title for the second straight season with a 1-0 win over Club Brugge courtesy of Kenny Dalglish’s goal midway through the second half.

The next time Wembley hosted the big game came in 1992 when Barcelona overcame Sampdoria 1-0 to land their first title, courtesy of a free-kick deep into extra-time from Ronald Koeman. It was the last European Cup before the rebrand to the Champions League.

The first final under the new Wembley arch came in 2011 and saw Barcelona triumph once again, beating Man United 3-1 with Pedro, Lionel Messi and David Villa on target and Wayne Rooney replying for Alex Ferguson’s side.

Wembley was awarded the 2013 final in recognition of the FA’s 150th anniversary.

The seventh final at the venue and second in three years was an all-German affair as Bayern Munich edged past Borussia Dortmund with Arjen Robben slotting in a last-gasp winner after Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty had cancelled out Mario Mandzukic’s opener for Munich on the hour.

Who will be performing the eighth lap of honour at the iconic stadium on Saturday evening?

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.

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