Everyone is talking about Wolves these days.
Whether it’s their amazing Championship run to promotion, how easy Ruben Neves is going to find curling the ball into the top corner in the Premier League or super agent Jorge Mendes’ influence on transfer policy.
But did you know the club from the Black Country are responsible for the creation of the Champions League?
That’s right, all those magical Champions League moments would never have happened if it hadn’t been for Wolves and their exotic taste back in 1954.
Just think, we would never have seen that volley from Zinedine Zidane, never have seen Lionel Messi leaving Jerome Boateng in a babbling wreck on the floor, Gareth Bale wouldn’t have scored his bicycle kick in the final and Arsenal would have avoided getting hammered by Bayern every year.
We’ve got a lot to thank them for.
So as the story goes, way back in the 1950s, before anyone had really expanded the borders of domestic football, after recently winning the first division for the first time Wolves thought they would test themselves against Hungarian giants Honved.
At the time Honved had this lad called Ferenc Puskas, you might have heard of him.
The match was part of Wolves’ series of ‘floodlit friendlies’ which turned out to be the spark that created the Champions League as we know it.
Wolves won 3-2, playing under the rare sight of floodlights in England and it attracted attention all over Europe.
The game was also broadcast live on the BBC and would become possibly the moment that the European Cup was truly born.
Wolves had also beaten a Spartak Moscow side earlier in the series and the Daily Mail crowned them ‘champions of the world’ after sinking the Hungarians.
But Gabriel Hanon, editor of L’Equipe at the time, hit back saying the English side needs to win in Budapest or Moscow before they can claim that.
Hanon was at Molineux for the match and enjoyed it so much he started a campaign to introduce a competition where Europe’s elite clubs would face off against each other regularly.
And there you have the birth of the European Cup.
Now nearly sixty years later, Real Madrid have won it 12 times, Liverpool, United and Chelsea have all been successful and Arsenal have had some of their best and worst times.
So here’s a thank you to Wolves, Honved, Hanon and everyone else who helped make the Champions League a thing.
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