By Ollie Cranham-Young
- Champions League is a special competition
- Old Trafford comes alive on Champions League nights
- Champions League and Manchester United as addictive as each other
As we approach Tuesday night’s Champions League Qualifier with Club Brugge, I thought it would be a good time to explain to you what the Champions League means to me…
As we all know, United have won the European Cup/Champions League, whatever you want to call it, three times: In 1968, 1999 and 2008. But first, I would like to tell you a bit about myself in my following of United. Now I am 15, and I have seen United reach three Champions League Finals, succeeding in one of them.
I began watching the Reds in the 2006/07 season, in which United were crowned Champions following their longest draught of three years without the Premier League Trophy. I saw United lift the trophy on the last day of the season, after a 1-0 defeat to West Ham United, with the goal coming from a certain Carlos Tevez, seeing them to avoid relegation.
However this match was important to me because it made me want to watch United all the time, and the following season, I watched every game. Luckily, it was the year we were crowned the “Double Champions”, winning the League and the Champions League. So I could say the Champions League is important to me, because I had already seen United win the league on the last day of the previous season, but this was the first other trophy I had seen them lift.
Unfortunately, in the two Champions League Finals after that season in which we featured in (2009 and 2011), United weren’t successful, losing out to Barcelona on both occasions. But personally, I think that there is something about the Champions League that grips you, and forces you to watch: Even after a heart-breaking final defeat, as a fan you can’t wait until the next time your club features in the Champions League.
United and the Champions League have one major thing in common – they are both addictive. United in the sense that there is something about the club that grips you, maybe it is the history of the club or how globally known it is and then the Champions League because it is the greatest footballing competition bar the World Cup.
The Champions League is a competition like no other. It epitomises the spirit of football and the greatness of the game. In my opinion, you have never truly reached the top until you have won the Champions League. I think that this is more the case nowadays, than in the 50’s and 60’s.
Not as many teams were competitive then and football was at a much lower standard, maybe the reason why clubs such as Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest have won it, because they are not still at the peak of football.
In my opinion, it is the hardest competition to win because in the league, (from a United’s fan point of view) you only really ever play three or four teams that are of your standard, whereas in the Champions League, every fixture is difficult. In the league, you can lose a game and it’s not the end of the world, however if you lose a game in the Champions League that could be it for you.
But that’s what makes it the most prestigious competition in in world football – it may be for only European teams but all the great teams are in Europe. There is no amazing Non-European football club sadly.
European nights at Old Trafford are truly unique. Nou Camp. Bernabeu. San Siro. Anfield. Allianz Arena. None of them host European nights quite like Old Trafford. They are incredibly magnificent events in my opinion. Everything is the same though, nothing is done differently at Old Trafford. Maybe it’s just the aura that Old Trafford has. One of my favourite parts about the Champions League is the beating of the Champions League Anthem before kick-off, it sums up everything about the Champions League and sort of announces its arrival.
Another thing is that the world’s greatest footballers participate in the Champions League. There is no way to list them all, but the competition brings them all together. In domestic leagues, they are all separate, playing for different clubs in different countries. It is similar in the World Cup, one country might have one outstanding player but they fail to qualify.
But in the Champions League, providing you play for a big club which is extremely likely, you are sort of in a mini-tournament with lots of other players. Finally, the Champions League has provided some of football’s most magical moments, and games of course. Manchester United’s historic, coveted treble was completed in a Champions League match, and it was without a doubt the most dramatic Champions League match ever.
Another moment, is Liverpool’s unbelievable comeback in 2005 which again reflects the spirit and determination of the hallowed competition which is, the Champions League. As footballer has only reached the pinnacle of his career once he has won the Champions League. And all of the above this is why I love the Champions League.