Did You Know? Facts About the UEFA Champions League

The UEFA Champions League is one of the most prestigious sporting events on the planet.  It’s where the premier football clubs in Europe fight it out for the silverware, a slice of a multi-million Euro prize pool and the honour of being ‘simply the best’.
It’s where young players like Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka of Zambia become home boy heroes and superstars in the shape of Ronaldo and Messi wow audiences all over again with their wizardry and awesome athleticism.
Here are a few fascinating facts about a football tournament that has the capacity to bring most the world to a screeching halt:
  • The UEFA Champions League final attracts one of the largest live TV audiences in the world, second only to the American Super Bowl.

  • Last year in the 2017/2018 season the cream of European football battled it out for a total prize pool of $1.46 billion.  Eventual winners Real Madrid banked a cool $102 million, with each player earning a hefty $2.66 million apiece!
  • The Spanish club is clearly in the pound seats as apart from their latest triumph in 2018, they’ve won the title a record 13 times!
  • In fact, Spain is the clear front runner in the long and illustrious history of the tournament, having claimed the title a record 18 times, six clear of nearest rivals England and Italy which have 12 titles each.

Real Madrid and Barcelona
  • What makes Spain’s consistent performances in the top flight that much more remarkable is that only two clubs – Real Madrid and Barcelona – have achieved the runaway win rate.  England’s 12 titles on the other hand involved five clubs – Liverpool (5), Manchester United (3), Nottingham Forest (2), Chelsea (1) and Aston Villa (1).
  • Despite English Premier League clubs having contested 20 finals, 12 of which they’ve won, there are no English players amongst the top 20 top goal scorers in the UEFA Champions League.  The best performing player born and bred in England is former Manchester United striker, Wayne Rooney who shares 24th spot with Kaka and Samuel Eto’o.
  • Who is the most prolific goal scorer of all-time in the UEFA Champions League?  Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, of course.  The legendary striker has scored 121 goals in 158 appearances for three clubs over 16 years – Manchester United (52), Real Madrid (101) and Juventus (1).

Christiano Ronaldo
  • The league is where old soldiers get their final taste of fame and fortune and young guns come out to play.  To date, the oldest player to compete in the tournament is Marco Ballota, Lazio’s goalkeeper who, in 2007, was 43 years and 253 days old.
  • On the flip side the Nigerian left-back for Dutch club Anderlecht, Celestine Babayaro was just 16 years and 87 days young when he made his league debut in 1994.  Babayaro’s first taste of the big time lasted exactly 37 minutes as he also had the dubious honour of becoming the youngest player in the league to be red carded!
  • The UEFA Champions League was not always an extended competition made up of qualifying rounds and round robin showdowns.  In its former iteration as the European Cup, it was a straight knock out competition featuring just one best performing club from each nation.
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  • It was only in 1992 that the league expanded to its current structure and UEFA gave the nod to up to five clubs apiece from Europe’s strongest leagues – the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga. Now it’s a carnival of championship football that goes on entertaining millions of fans across the world for months at a time.

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Published: 02/14/2019