Right Place Wrong Time

Some clubs have become synonymous with Champions League success, since the competition began in 1955 (then under the guise of The European Cup) 21 different clubs have been crowned as champions of Europe.

The top ten most successful clubs in the history of the competition have taken an impressive 42 out of 55 available trophies ₁.  This number is even more staggering when you take into account the 29 trophies won by the top five; Real Madrid (9), AC Milan (7), Liverpool (5), Bayern Munich (4) and Ajax (4), historically winning over 50% of the trophies on offer ₁.

With this in mind it may be easy for players at many of these clubs to take for granted that success in Europe’s most coveted competition is a given.  This article takes a look at the five players who have not been able to win a Champions League medal themselves despite playing for a minimum of four Champions League winning clubs over the course of their careers.

Ronaldo (PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan)

The greatest striker of his generation, and arguably of all time; El Fenomeno (The Phenomenon) has this week announced his retirement from the game, finishing his career with homeland club Corinthians. 

This announcement has sparked a flurry of articles, blogs and youtube compilations depicting his remarkable skills and achievements in the game, it seems unjust to include Ronaldo’s name in this piece which ultimately has a negative outlook.

His start with Cruzeiro and finish at Corinthians sandwiched spells with five European clubs whom have enjoyed success in the continents premier club competition, despite this Ronaldo never managed to acquire a Champions League winners medal himself.

This is not to say that the strikers career could be deemed unsuccessful, far from it, to showcase but a few of Ronaldo’s club level honours; domestic trophies in Brazil with both clubs that he represented as well as in Holland with PSV, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup with Barcelona in 1997 was to be accompanied by a UEFA Cup winners medal with Inter Milan in 1998 before a move back to Spain where R9 was to win La Liga twice.

The only club with whom Ronaldo did not win a trophy was AC Milan where he was cup tied for the Champions League triumph of 2007.  The closest he came to winning an elusive Champions League winners medal was in Real Madrid’s 2002/03 campaign which ended in a 4-3 aggregate semi final defeat to Juventus. 

Ronaldo will be able to enjoy his retirement with a feeling of immense pride, having also received a number of individual accolades; two Ballon D’or awards, FIFA Player of the Year winner on three separate occasions (a feat matched only by Zinedine Zidane) and listed in the FIFA 100 by fellow countryman Pele to name but three.

All this without mentioning his 15 World Cup goals (an all time competition record) and two World Cups won with Brazil which are the icing on the cake of a remarkable career blighted by injury.

Laurent Blanc (Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan, Manchester United)

Another player to obtain a World Cup winners medal (albeit serving a suspension in the final) the imposing defender who stands at 6’3” was also a teammate of Ronaldo at Barcelona for the European Cup Winners Cup winning season of 1996/97 (missing the final through injury).

His greatest successes were enjoyed with the French national side, a European Championship winners medal being added to his collection in 2000.  This is not to say that the player was not to taste glory at club level, the highlight’s being a Ligue 1 triumph with Auxerre and a Premier League trophy with Manchester United in 2003.

Often deployed as a sweeper Blanc was one of the modern games greatest defenders, also enjoying stints with Napoli, Inter Milan and Marseille as well as a host of other French clubs he will hope to replicate his successes  on the field with the national side in his new role as manager.

Boudewijn Zenden (PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Liverpool, Marseille)

Another player to enjoy spells with Barcelona and Marseille, but not before his breakthrough at homeland club PSV where he started out in the youth team, now with Sunderland he is the only member of this list still playing.

The Dutch winger benefitted from winning honours with PSV early in his career, receiving the Dutch Football Talent of the Year award in 1997 went hand in hand with an Eredivisie League Championship win.  This rise to prominence led the Dutchman to Barcelona where he added a La Liga title to his honours list.

An extended stay in England with Chelsea, Middlesbrough and then Liverpool, Zenden was somewhat unfortunate with the Anfield club.  He arrived on the back of a Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005 only to make his final appearance wearing the famous red shirt in the 2007 Champions League final defeat against AC Milan.  He did however win a European Super Cup with the club in 2005 as well as an FA Cup the following year (although he was injured for the final).

An unfruitful two years in France with Marseille before moving back to the North of England with his present club.

Pierre Van Hooijdonk (Celtic, Nottingham Forest, Benfica, Feyenoord)

The second Dutchman on this list, perhaps a little harshly considering the last time that any of the clubs he played for won the Champions League was in 1980 (Nottingham Forest), nine years before his debut with RBC.

The striker who was an aerial threat due to his sheer size won 46 caps for Holland.  Also seen as a set piece specialist, Van Hooijdonk made his first move abroad to join Celtic before a transfer to Premier League Nottingham Forest, however his greatest successes were to be enjoyed later on his career.

Leaving England saw spells back home and in Portugal with Benfica, prior to another transfer back to Holland where Van Hooijdonk scored two goals in Feyenoord’s 3-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the  2002 UEFA Cup Final, at the clubs home ground.  From here the player moved to Fenerbache where he enjoyed top flight league success for the first time, winning the Super Lig back to back in 2004 and 2005 (won English Division One in 1998 with Nottingham Forest).

Now retired after another two years (2005-07) shared between previous clubs NAC and Feyenoord in his homeland. 

Dean Saunders (Liverpool, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Benfica)

The Welsh striker who earned 75 caps for his country enjoyed stints at some of England’s most renowned clubs including Liverpool and Aston Villa as well as the big two in Wales (Cardiff and Swansea City).

Somewhat of a journeyman, Saunders also made appearances for top clubs in Turkey and Portugal (Galatasaray and Benfica respectively).  His career highlight being an FA Cup win at Wembley with Liverpool in 1992, which was shared with his strike partner for club and country Ian Rush.

Premier League runner up with Aston Villa the following season, another trip to Wembley in 1994 saw Saunders grab two goals in a 3-1 victory over Manchester United to lift the League Cup with the Midlands club. 

It is very rare (if ever) that a list of strikers of the modern game will include Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Dean Saunders and Ronaldo but I have managed to do it here.  All five of these players have enjoyed successful careers at some of the European games most prestigious clubs despite not winning the Champions League as individuals.

It remains to be seen if any of these players harbour any regrets in terms of this competition.  All that is left to do is enjoy the opening fixtures in the final 16 of the 2010/11 campaign and to see who will be crowned the 56th Champions League winners at Wembley in May.
 

₁ This figure is up to and including the final of 2010.

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Sporting Heroes

Between being in Berlin over the weekend and writing a piece for another site there has been a lack of activity on the blog since the final part of my Ajax series was posted.  I hope to get some new material posted within the next week.  

In the meantime head over to the fantastic Talking Sports website, and more importantly be sure to check out my piece on Patrick Vieira in the Sporting Heroes section which can be found here:
http://www.talkingsports.co.uk/football/sporting-heroes-patrick-viera-itbeganin1992/

Big thanks to Simon for allowing me to have the opportunity to write on this platform, you can follow him on twitter @SimonPilkington.

As always feedback is most welcome, you can contact me on twitter @itbeganin1992 or by email itbeganin1992@gmail.com.

More soon,
I92

What Became Of Ajax ’95 (Part 3)

Welcome to the third and final part of this series looking at the victorious Ajax side of the 1995 Champions League final.  The latter part of this piece looks at the substitutes on the night, but firstly the forward trio which was somewhat cosmopolitan in comparison to the rest of the side.

Marc Overmars:  Currently a member of the backroom staff at his first ever club Go Ahead Eagles, he is also involved in the building trade, more specifically with a project entitled Drain4You.

The winger retired in 2004, however he hit the headlines in 2008 having returned to professional football as a player with Go Ahead at the age of 35.  Upon retirement Overmars had continued to train with the Go Ahead players and ex Oranje team mate Paul Bosvelt once a week.  His one season comeback was sparked by an impressive showing during Jaap Stam’s testimonial (in which six of the Ajax ’95 final team made an appearance) when up against defender George Ogararu (of Ajax at the time).  

Having had spells with Go Ahead Eagles and Willem II Overmars arrived at Ajax in 1992.  He enjoyed a five year period with the Amsterdammers which was the most successful time of his career, scooping three Dutch league titles, The Champions League and European Super Cup amongst others. 

Missing out on Euro ’96 with The Netherlands (for whom he won 86 caps) due to a serious knee injury, it was a considerable gamble for Arsene Wenger to bring the player to Arsenal, where he was affectionately nicknamed Roadrunner by supporters.  The £5.5 million gamble paid off, with Overmars becoming a key player in the side which won a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season at the club.  The only further silverware he added in North London prior to a £25 million pound transfer to Barcelona was the following season’s annual curtain raiser, The Charity Shield. 

Arriving in Spain, Overmars was at the time the most expensive Dutch player in history, unfortunately for him he was not to add any further honours to his list during a four year stint at the club which saw him make just shy of 100 appearances.

Finidi George:  In November 2010 Finidi was appointed as Director of International Football at Real Betis.  The former Nigerian International will be expected to use his footballing knowledge and vast web of contacts to bring fresh talent to the club from all around Europe and particularly Africa.

After playing for three clubs in his homeland Finidi arrived at Ajax alongside his compatriot Nwankwo Kanu, going on to win the Eridivisie three times as well as The Champions League before moving to Spain with Real Betis, the place where he called home for four years.

The wingers’ previous success at club level proved a hard act to follow, only adding a Spanish Cup runner’s up medal (‘96/’97) to his collection for the remainder of his career which also saw moves to Mallorca, Ipswich and back to Mallorca again before retiring in 2004.

Winning the African Nations Cup in 1994 and playing in two World Cup’s (USA ’94 & France ’98) Finidi was awarded 62 caps for Nigeria. 

Jari Litmanen:  The 39 year from Finland currently dons the number 10 shirt of hometown club FC Lahti, recently rolling back the years by scoring a spectacular overhead kick in a match against AC Oulu.  Clips of this goal were seen by thousands as it sprung up on numerous football websites, not content with this Litmanen hit the headlines once more after scoring in Finland’s 8-0 defeat of San Marino in November.  This goal made him the oldest player ever to score in a European Championship Qualifying match.

Inheriting the Ajax number 10 shirt vacated by Dennis Bergkamp who had left for Inter Milan, Litmanen spent 7 years in Amsterdam winning 4 Dutch Championships and 3 Dutch cups (to go with his Champions League winners medal of ‘95) this was to be the most successful period of his career with the remainder blighted by injury.

A two year stint at Barcelona was followed by a move to Liverpool and although he was part of the 2001 squad that won the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup treble, injury prevented his involvement in any of these finals. 

His second coming at Ajax was never destined to be as successful as the first, the highlight of this spell being progression to the Quarter Finals of the 2002/03 Champions League.

Three players of different backgrounds, all of whom moved to England at some point in their career’s with somewhat differing levels of success.  Unable to break the deadlock in the final, this brings us to the substitutes who made an appearance on the night. 

There were two substitutes made by Ajax during the course of the final, one of these provided the inspiration for this article (mentioned in part 1) and the other scored the winning goal (85th minute), providing the Ajax team of 1995 with a lasting legacy.

Nwankwo Kanu:  The Nigerian who has literally touched the hearts of many having set up the Kanu Heart Foundation in July 2000 currently finds himself playing in the second tier of the English league with Portsmouth having been relegated from The Premier League with the club last season.  The highlight of Kanu’s time at Pompey being his winning goal in the 2008 FA Cup final against Cardiff, this netted him a career third FA Cup winner’s medal.

Kanu made 54 appearances for Ajax before a brief spell at Inter Milan which was marred by a heart scare for which he had to undergo surgery.  A stint in North London with Arsenal was to follow.  It was here that he won both The Premier League and FA Cup twice (one cup double) and is still fondly remembered for scoring a spectacular goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 1999.  Shimmying past goalkeeper Ed De Goey and slotting home from almost the byline, the goal was made even sweeter by the fact that this was his third in 15 minutes, winning the game for Arsenal who were previously 2-0 down.                                                                                                                                                               

A spell at West Bromwich Albion before his transfer to Portsmouth, Kanu can also add domestic league titles, a UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup with Ajax, a UEFA Cup with Inter, an Olympic Gold medal with Nigeria (84 caps) and a brace of African Footballer of the Year awards to his honours list.

Replaced Seedorf on 54 minutes.

 Patrick Kluivert:  The Dutchman is currently employed as assistant coach at NEC Nijmegen of the Eridivisie, signing a contract for the 2010/11 season this is his first full time coaching role having obtained his professional coaching badges at the close of 2009.  Kluivert completed his 15 month traineeship to obtain said badges with the PSV youth team having initiated the course as a youth team coach with AZ Alkmaar.     

 Born in Amsterdam Kluivert joined the Ajax youth academy aged seven.  By the time he had departed for AC Milan in 1997 following in the footsteps of boyhood idols Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten he had won a Champions League, two Eredivisie titles, two Dutch Super Cups and two European Super Cups with the senior team. 

Despite being reunited with some of his former team mates (Davids, Reiziger and Bogarde) at Milan he was unable to relive past glories in his one season at the club, culminating in a tenth place finish in Serie A.

Moving to Barcelona in 1998 the striker was this time reunited with his former coach at Ajax, Louis Van Gaal.  A successful first season in Spain saw the Catalan giants defend their crown as champions of the domestic league.  That La Liga trophy was to become the only piece of silverware Kluivert would win with the club during six years at Camp Nou.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

A series of one year stints plagued by injury at Newcastle United, Valencia and PSV where Kluivert was to add another Eridivisie title to his tally all preceded his final year at Lille where he retired in 2008. 

Still the all time leading goalscorer for the national side with 40 goals Kluivert went full circle, joining the compatriots he once idolised as a boy on the FIFA 100 list named by Pele in 2004.

Replaced Litmanen on 69 minutes.

 

Two great strikers of the modern game with vastly differing playing styles, both chose to move on from Ajax to the San Siro, albeit one choosing blue stripes and the other one red.  With Kluivert going on to become Barcelona’s all time top scorer since the 50’s with an incredible 90 goals in 182 appearances it is perhaps a shame that he didn’t follow Kanu to the Premier League sooner.

Finally, a brief look at the unused substitutes on the night.

Fred Grim:  Now aged 45 Grim currently finds himself working as Youth Goalkeeping Coach at Ajax.

Winston Bogarde:  The former Dutch defender who made 20 appearances for his country is now coming to the end of a coaching course which will see him obtain a UEFA Pro Licence.

Peter Van Vossen:  The former striker who earnt 31 Oranje caps is now Assistant Manager at Dutch second tier club RBC Roosendaal, contracted to the role until June 2011.

Such a wonderful group of individual talent, such a brilliant team under the stewardship of Louis Van Gaal it would have been impossible to predict the future success stories of each of these player’s despite their remarkable abilities.

I hope that you have enjoyed this series and it has provided you with some insight into this triumphant side, if you wish to contact me for anything be it questions or feedback please get in touch on twitter @itbeganin1992 or via email at itbeganin1992@gmail.com.

 I92.

What Became Of Ajax ’95 (Part 2)

Part two of this series looking at the 1995 Champions League winning team who defeated AC Milan in the final of the competition looks at the sides’ engine room, the midfield.  As with the backline this quartet is also an all Dutch affair, these players amassing an impressive 301 caps for the national side between them.

Some of the greatest midfield talent to ever come out of this proud footballing nation, backed up by an impressive array of honours, individual records and awards these players have played for some of the world’s most respected clubs.

Frank Rijkaard:  Another of the Ajax ’95 team that turned his hand to management once his playing days were over, winning La Liga (twice) and The Champions League with Barcelona and also coaching the Dutch national side to the semi final of Euro 2000.  He currently finds himself without a club having been relieved of his duties at Galatasary in the autumn of 2010.

The final of 1995 was the curtain closer on his illustrious playing career coming at the end of a second stint as an Ajax player.  Ironically, that night in Vienna the opposition club was the one at which he was most revered having won back to back European Cups in 1989 and 1990(himself scoring the only goal in the final defeat of Benfica), later repeating the feat in Serie A (’92 and ’93).

Earning 73 caps for the Netherlands he is the only player in this list to win a trophy with Oranje, part of the triumphant national side at Euro ’88 in West Germany.

Ronald De Boer:  An ambassador for the successful Qatar World Cup 2022 bid De Boer lives in Doha, the capital of the country where he ended his playing career following stints with Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal, he also completes television work for sports channel Al Jazeera.

Another player enjoying his second stint at Ajax at the time of the 1995 final, having left to join Twente for two seasons.  The midfielder also played for Barcelona and Rangers in the second half of his career winning league titles in both countries in the process.  Playing side by side with twin brother Frank for most of his career he won 67 caps for the Dutch national team, a member of the 1998 World Cup side that reached the semi final stage in France.

Edgar Davids:  Now an ambassador for the official street soccer federation of the Netherlands (SVBN), founder of The @Foundation and also involved with The Suriname Conservation Foundation which sustains rainforests in Suriname (Davids’ birthplace).  He is the front man for MONTA (a street soccer apparel company) and was also seen on British television screens during the summer of 2010 as a pundit for ITV’s World Cup coverage in South Africa.  More recently Davids enjoyed a brief spell as a player for Crystal Palace between August and November 2010 having previously retired from the game in 2008.

Nicknamed The Pitbull, his career at Ajax began in 1991; one year after the final of 1995 Davids joined that night’s opposition, AC Milan before moving to Juventus the following season.  A successful spell wearing the bianconeri shirt of The Old Lady prior to moves that took the defensive midfielder to Barcelona, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur, culminating with a final swansong at Ajax in the 2007/08 season.  The Pitbull can add 74 Netherlands caps to his impressive array of domestic league titles with Juventus and Ajax amongst other domestic and European trophies.

Clarence Seedorf:  The last of Seedorf’s 87 Oranje caps came in a European Championship qualifying match back in 2008, despite this his club career is still going strong.  AC Milan’s number 10 will be hoping to add to the honours he has obtained whilst wearing the famous rossoneri shirt, with the club still in contention in both Serie A and The Champions League.  The 35 year old received many plaudits for an impressive showing as a pundit for the BBC during last summer’s World Cup in South Africa and has also found time to establish his own charity;  Champions For Children.

Aged 16 years and 211 days Seedorf was to become Ajax’s youngest ever debutant and from here he never looked back, scooping two Eredivisie titles and a Champions League with the club before being transferred to Sampdoria.  He played in Italy for one season before Fabio Capello personally requested his signature for Real Madrid (aged 19).  Seedorf’s maiden season in Spanish football brought him a La Liga title, with a second Champions League winner’s medal following in 1998 before a move to Inter Milan. 

A transfer from Inter to fierce rivals AC Milan saw a flurry of trophies added to the player’s honours list.  A Coppa Italia and Champions League double was had in 2003 (marking Seedorf as the only player in history to win The Champions League with three different clubs), A triumphant Serie A campaign in 2004 led to the fourth domestic league title win of his career, a feat matched when he won The Champions League for the fourth time in 2007.  The final trophy of this impressive haul came in 2007 seeing Seedorf set another record, becoming the first European player to win the FIFA Club World Cup for three different clubs following success with Ajax (’95) and Real Madrid (’98).

Disregarding the fact that a majority of this triumphant side is Dutch there appears to be a vast amount of symmetry that runs throughout, this is no more apparent than in the midfield.  With three of these players hailing from Surinam, Seedorf must be eternally grateful to his parents for turning down a move to Real Madrid on his behalf aged 15, thus enabling him to go on and play in the same side as his boyhood idol Frank Rijkaard (whose father is Surinamese). 

The final player of Surinamese descent; Edgar Davids also played for AC Milan just like the other two and again all three share the impressive accolade of being named amongst the FIFA 100.  Despite the name the FIFA 100 is a list of the greatest ever 125 players to play the game nominated by none other than arguably the best player the world has ever seen: Pele.   

Without forgetting Ronald De Boer, who went on to play in Spain just like his three midfield compatriots.  Of the four only Rijkaard didn’t play for La Liga’s big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid, having a short stint in Spain with Real Zaragoza before his transfer to AC Milan.

Tribute must be paid to Ajax for giving these four remarkable players the opportunity to cut their teeth in senior football, with two of them (Davids and Seedorf) being promoted from the much lauded youth academy at the club.

What Became Of Ajax ’95 (Part 1)

Upon seeing Kanu’s name pop up on the videoprinter (do they still call it that!?) having scored in the 26th minute of Portsmouth’s game against Nottingham Forest in January it left me pondering what had happened to the rest of the famous Ajax team that defeated AC Milan in the final of The Champions League in 1995.

Many superlatives could be used as a prefix when describing this team due to the impressive array of individual talent on show.  However, famous seems most apt taking into account the vast amount of silverware amassed by each player in their irrespective careers around Europe and beyond, breaking records and writing themselves into the folklore of the modern game in the process.

With Louis Van Gaal deploying his favoured 3-4-3 formation in the final, the first instalment of this three part series will focus on the back line, who between them accumulated 356 caps for the Dutch national side over the course of their international playing careers.  Quite the foundation on which to build a successful side.  

Edwin Van Der Sar: At 40 years of age Van Der Sar is still plying his trade between the sticks, now into his sixth year at Manchester United having added another Champions League winner’s medal to his impressive list of honours as recently as 2008.  A fantastic career that will end at the close of the 2010/11 season following an announcement earlier this week, has also seen him don the gloves of Juventus and Fulham as well as gaining 130 caps for Holland (a national record having superseded Frank De Boer on 112 caps).

As well as numerous league titles and other domestic cup wins at Ajax and Manchester United individual plaudits have not been in short supply, named Best European Goalkeeper twice and Dutch Football Goalkeeper of the year on no fewer than four occasions to name just a few.

Danny Blind:  Currently assistant coach at Ajax to none other than the next name on this list, Blind returned to the Amsterdam clubs backroom staff in 2008 following a brief hiatus as director of his first ever club Sparta Rotterdam.  All of this after occupying the Ajax managerial hotseat between March ’05 and May ’06.

Captain of the winning side on the night, Blind was to complete his set of European club medals won with Ajax following the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and UEFA cup successes of ’87 and ’92 respectively.  Capped 42 times for the Netherlands the defender finally retired with Ajax having also won five Dutch Eredivisie Championships, four Dutch Cups, the Intercontinental Cup and European Super Cup leading him to become the only Dutch player to have ever won all international club competitions recognised by both FIFA and UEFA.

Frank De Boer:  Now aged 40 the younger of the De Boer twins currently holds the managerial reins at Ajax, he will hope to develop some of the talent he has nurtured during his time working with the Ajax youth setup.  Still early on in his managerial career he has also worked as assistant manager to the Dutch national side (a role which he occupied at South Africa 2010 where Oranje were defeated by Spain in the final), he will hope to emulate the successes of his playing career.

De Boer left Ajax to join Barcelona in 1998 where he added a La Liga title to the five league titles he won whilst a player with the Amsterdammers.  The player retired with Al-Ryann of Qatar in April 2006 following brief spells with Rangers and Galatasary.

Micheal Reiziger:  Currently studying towards his coaching badges whilst residing in Spain where he spent seven years of his playing career with Catalan giants FC Barcelona.

During his time with Barcelona the defender added back to back league titles, a UEFA Super Cup and a Spanish Cup to his already burgeoning clutch of domestic and European honours gained whilst playing for Ajax.  Stints in Italy and England with AC Milan and Middlesborough respectively sandwiched his time at Camp Nou.  The right back returned to his homeland with PSV Eindhoven having been awarded 72 Oranje caps, it was here that he called it a day but not before adding two further domestic league titles to his medal collection.

Coming into the final of ’95 Ajax had not won The Champions League since 1973 when it was then known as The European Cup, progression to the final was due in no small part to a solid defensive lineup that helped the team win the tournament without losing a game, only conceding four goals in the process.

Seeing as these four players have had glittering playing careers working under some of the greatest managers and coaches the game has ever seen it seems fitting that they should continue in football in some form of coaching capacity.  With De Boer and Blind instated as Ajax number 1 and 2 respectively, Reiziger coming to the end of his coaching badges and Sir Alex Ferguson leaving the door open for Van Der Sar to return to Old Trafford as a coach once he retires from playing it appears as though this will soon become reality.

It Began In 1992

It began in 1992; A doff of the cap for the advent of The Premier League and also an ironic musing that there really was football before this behemoth of the modern game came to the fore.

The Premier League has become the be all and end all of the English game, so much so that the playoff final which brings the curtain down on The Championship season is known as ‘the richest match in football’. The winner of this match reaching the higher echelons of the top flight, netting a cool £40m in the process. This without mentioning parachute payments which can reach up to £48m over four seasons even if the club is relegated after only one season in The Premier League.

Following the dark period of the 80’s it was the England team reaching the semi final of World Cup Italia ’90 that reignited the nations love for football, however it is The Premier League which has built upon this and encapsulated support from all corners of the globe.

Premier League matches are transmitted in 211 countries around the world with an estimated 575m homes receiving these broadcasts with no sign of the leagues reach dwindling. It is little surprise that many of the top flight clubs embark on pre season tours overseas to try and capitalise on the lucrative commercial gains that can be obtained from being affiliated with The Premier League.

Since The Premier Leagues inception in 1992 it has had the pleasure of hosting a plethora of talent both individually and collectively. From Arsenal to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa to Wimbledon a total of 44 teams have graced the league with their presence, 4 of these teams having been crowned as champions. On an individual level fans have been blessed with being entertained by some of the greats of the modern game, listing them all would be like writing a who’s who of world football – from Asprilla, Bergkamp and Cantona to Tevez, Vieira and Zola.

With this being the first post from It Began In 1992 the aim is to keep it short and sweet, the above was intended to provide an insight into the choice of name for this blog and indeed its first entry.

Although this blog will predominantly speak about The Premier League, expanding on some of the topics touched upon in the previous few paragraphs (in particular the individual and collective brilliance that makes the league the greatest in the world), it will also focus on all things football both on these shores and abroad from the top flight down.

Look out for new posts at https://itbeganin1992.wordpress.com/, feel free to contact me via the blog, email or on twitter, your feedback is much appreciated.

itbeganin1992@gmail.com

@itbeganin1992

I92