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5 Interesting Facts about the Champions League Final

The UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious competition in European football, featuring top clubs from the national leagues across the continent. The final is one of the most-watched annual sporting events in the world with a television audience in excess of 350 million viewers.

Image taken from the back of a football stand showing silhouettes of fans cheering with the pitch in front of them

1. A little history

Officially, the first ever UEFA Champions League goal was scored by Daniel Amokachi who put the ball into the back of the net just 17 minutes into the game between his own side, Club Brugge KV's and CSKA Moscow on November 25th 1992. However, in reality, the history of the competition goes back much further. Originally known as the European Champions Club Cup, or more commonly the European Cup, the competition dates back to 1955.

Today, the strongest European national leagues can provide up to five teams each but back then, the tournament was open only to the champion club of each country and arranged as a straight knockout event. A total of 16 teams took part in the inaugural event and the final was played at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims. The French team took an early lead but the Spaniards came from behind to win 4-3.

2. Top teams

The club with the most appearances in a UEFA Champions League Final is AC Milan who reached the last game in the tournament on six occasions. Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus all have five appearances each while Manchester United and Real Madrid both have four. However, despite having the most appearances, AC Milan do not hold the record for being the most successful team in the finals having been crowned champions on only three occasions.

The top honour goes to Real Madrid who have won no fewer than four times - in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2014 - meaning that they have been successful every time they have appeared in the final. The team with the most defeats in the final is Juventus who were runners up in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2015.

3. Tale of the trophy

In March 1967, after Real Madrid had won the final for the sixth time, the UEFA Executive Committee held a meeting at which it was decided that the winning team would be allowed to hold on to the trophy and that funds would be made available to create a new one. Rather than create a simple replica of the original coup, the then General Secretary, Hans Bangerter, decided to create a brand new design, calling on the services of a specialist company in the Swiss city of Berne.

New regulations mean that the cup can now become the property of any club that wins the competition three times in a row or five times in total. Since the original competition began, Real Madrid, AFC Ajax, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Liverpool FC have all won the right to keep the cup in their trophy rooms. The most recent version of the cup was created in 2006, in time for the 50th anniversary of the competition. The current trophy is 62cm tall, weighs 7.5kg and has the names of the previous winning clubs engraved on it.

4. Prestigious players

In the history of the competition only four players have scored in two finals. Raul Gonzalez (Real Madrid 2000 and 2002), Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona 2006 and 2009) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona 2009 and 2011). Cristiano Ronaldo is unique in having scored in UEFA Champions League finals for two different winning sides - Manchester United in 2008 and Madrid in 2014.

No player has ever hit a hat-trick in a UEFA Champions League final but five players have scored twice: Daniele Massaro (AC Milan), Karlheinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund), Herman Crespo (AC Milan), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan) and Diego Milito (Internazionale Milano). Just two players have been shown the red card and ordered off the pitch in a final - Arsenal's Jens Lehmann in 2006 and Chelsea's Didier Drogba in 2008.

5. Champion coaches

The coaches with the most appearances in a UEFA Champions League final are Marcello Lippi of Juventus, Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United and Carlo Ancelotti of AC Milan. Ancelotti also holds the record for the coach with the most victories in the final, steering AC Milan to victory in 2003 and 2007 and Real Madrid in 2014.

Three other coaches have, like Ancelotti, won the competition with more than one club: Ottmar Hitzfeld who saw victories with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern Munich in 2001; Jose Mourinho who won with Porto in 2004 and Internazionale Milano in 2010 and Jupp Heynckes who won with Real Madrid in 1998 and Bayern Munich in 2013. Marcello Lippi is the coach with the most defeats in in the final, having been runner up with Juventus in 1997, 1998 and 2003.

5 Interesting Facts about the Champions League Final