As Molineux prepares to host European football once again, talkSPORT is reminded it was here where the European Cup was born.
Yes, it’s not unreasonable to blame the Premier League side for Gazprom ads, unnecessarily long draws, and Man United getting ‘easy groups’ – among many other things.
It started in December 1954 when Hungarian powerhouses Honved, featuring a handful of players that hammered England – inventors of football – 6-3 and 7-1, were invited to face English champions Wolves.
Stan Cullis’ side beat Ferenc Puskas and co. 3-2 and newspaper headlines over here swiftly declared Wolves as ‘unofficial world champions’.
Watching in the stands was French football writer Gabriel Hanot, who disagreed.
“Hanot felt that with clubs like Real Madrid and Milan, the claim was far fetched and suggested in [French newspaper] L’Equipe that ‘a European championship be organised between clubs. Then Wolves really could prove they are the best’,” Jacques Ferran, a former colleague of Hanot’s told uefa.com.
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It didn’t take long for the idea to snowball and the European Cup was launched the following season.
“Our boss Jacques Goddet knew that it represented a perfect opportunity to increase sales,” Ferran continued, adding clubs loved the idea.
“Real Madrid’s reaction was the most positive – their president, Santiago Bernabeu, sent us a letter immediately saying they were behind us. Anderlecht didn’t want a league format. They suggested knockout would be better as we could play under lights in midweek and it wouldn’t interfere with domestic leagues.”
And it was Ferran who wrote the first set of rules – by hand – which would see participation by invite only, while the final was to take place in Paris.
UEFA invited its associations to enter their champion clubs, as well as giving priority to the clubs invited by L’Equipe.
Invitations extended to a representative of Europe’s 16 leading nations. England’s went to Chelsea, who beat Wolves to the league title in 1954/55, but their involvement was blocked by the FA and the Football League – apparently there was no future in it and the competition would only interfere with the domestic game *inserts rolling eyes emoji*.
It didn’t matter because by 4 September 1955, the European Champion Clubs’ Cup was up and running – Sporting Lisbon and Yugoslavia’s FK Partizan battled to a 3-3 draw in the competion’s first ever game in Lisbon.
Real Madrid won the final – they actually won the first five – by beating Stade Reims 4-3.
The European Cup was born from a night at Molinuex and here is who was involved in the first edition
GF Aarhus (Denmark)
RSC Anderlecht (Belgium)
SC Rot-Weiss Essen (Germany)
Gwardia Warszawa (Poland)
AC Milan (Italy)
MTK Budapest (Hungary)
FK Partizan (Yugoslavia)
SK Rapid Wien (Austria)
Real Madrid (Spain)
Stade de Reims (France)
1. Saarbrücken (Saarland)
Servette FC (Switzerland)
Sporting Clube de Portugal (Portugal)