This article was first published in Champions Journal. Read the original article here.
Gabriel Hanot was a player, then manager-turned-journalist, who had the unique distinction of once calling for his own head as coach of the French national team. However, of more pertinence is the competition he proposed via an article published in French sports daily L'Équipe on 15 December 1954. “The idea of a European club championship… deserves to be launched. It is worth a try.”
By early April 1955, 20 representatives of 15 of the most influential clubs in European football were sat around at table in Paris’s Hotel Ambassador; they decided that 16 teams from 16 countries would play each other home and away in midweek fixtures with evening kick-offs. On 4 September 1955, Sporting played out a 3-3 draw with Partizan in Lisbon – the very first European Champions Clubs’ Cup fixture.
Montmartre itself is a hive of artistic activity. You’ll understand why celebrated French author Victor Hugo wrote, ‘Breathe in Paris, it preserves the soul’
Real Madrid have been to three Paris finals, and it was in the southwest of the French capital that European Cup final history was written. Real’s legend-laced squad, headed by Alfredo Di Stéfano, travelled to France to face Stade de Reims for the inaugural showpiece at the Parc des Princes on 13 June 1956. Two-nil down within 10 minutes and 3-2 behind with under half an hour to play, Real roared back to win 4-3 and claim the first of their record 13 triumphs.
On return visits to the capital, Real lost to Liverpool in 1980/81 before defeating Valencia in 1999/2000. The latter was one of two finals previously staged at the Stade de France; the other came when Barcelona defeated Arsenal in 2005/06. France, meanwhile, have only ever had one winner in the competition: whisper it quietly, as it was Paris Saint-Germain's arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille in 1993.