Estadio Nacional, Lisbon, Portugal

August 23, 2008

What a stadium!!!!

Its barely used these days – there are bigger better more modern stadiums in Lisbon. Bigger, better & more modern but none with the character of this one!

Set in the north of Lisbon, in the suburb of Cruz Quebrada, tucked away hidden by trees high on a hill, Estadio Nacional is special. It is the site of a significant changing of the landscape in European Football, for it was here on the 25th of May 1967 that Celtic won the European Cup and in doing so became the the first Scottish team, the first British team, the first non-Latin team and the first team from Northern Europe to do so. With the exception of Milan in 1969, the cup was to stay in the north of Europe until 1985.

To say that Estadio Nacional is unusual is also very true. It features a majestic marble stand which surrounds one side and the two ends of the ground. When Billy McNeill held aloft the trophy that famous night it was a scene fitting of champions. The other side….is empty!!! In 1967 though a temporary stand was erected. That stand is not there today.  Can you even imagine it? A temporary stand used in the biggest game of the year?

The European Cup – now the Champions League of course – will never again be held in such surroundings. The stadium is not small – it can still hold 50 000 but though it is in perfect condition its not new or modern enough. Having visited the stadium, one hopes that it retains its uniqueness in perpetuity.


Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland

August 2, 2008

Along with the smaller Hampden Park, Celtic Park is one of two world class stadiums in the city of Glasgow. Home to the giants of Scottish football, Celtic, the stadium was completely refurbished in the mid nineties by then chairman, Fergus McCann. McCann oversaw the complete rebuilding of three sides of the ground, with the main stand remaining, having already been rebuilt in the 1980s. Today the ground holds 61,000 and is one of the 3 biggest grounds in Britain. A tour of the stadium will introduce the visitor to the statue of club founder, Brother Walfrid, which greets visitors outside the main entrance. Also on display in the trophy room is the European Cup, Celtic of course being Britains first winners of the cup. Throughout the inside of the stadium are photos of the great Celtic players including Larsson Johnstone Lennox & Dalglish. There are also a number of quotes refering to the club, many by the great manager Jock Stein.

Nou Camp, Barcelona, Spain

June 20, 2008

One of the – if not THE – most famous stadiums in the world. Home of FC Barcelona the Camp Nou is a wonderful stadium. “Nou Camp” meansnew ground or new home and derived its name when FC Barcelona moved from Les Corts in 1957. Holding in excess of 100,000 the Nou Camp offers a brilliant view of a wonderful surface. The Nou Camp is not just a football ground though. It is also a basketball stadium a futsal stadium and an ice hockey rink. Barcelona’s motto is “Mes Que Un Club” – More than a Club and they are just that. The club has become the flagship of the Catalan people and its history is littered with great players – from the club founder Joan Gamper to Sandor Kocsis to Cruyff, Maradona, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi and perhaps the greatest of them all Henrik Larsson. The ground itself is breathtaking in size & stature… the museum & exhibition are first class and even the club shop is an experience.

Barca Barca Bar – Ca!!!

Parc De Princes, Paris, France

June 8, 2008

Despite it now being a “poor older brother” to the new stadium across the city at St Denis, the Parc de Princes, home of Paris St Germain is still a great stadium. The stadium is used for a variety of purposes including Rugby Union & concerts and its design lends itself to creating a great atmosphere. Whilst watching a match the feeling is of being in close proximity to the ground and a great view is had from all seats.

Estadio Da Luz, Lisboa, Portugal

April 22, 2008

Home of Benfica this is a thoroughly modern stadium built – or more accurately rebuilt – for the 2004 European Championship. It is certainly impressive – large dressing rooms and warm up areas and a large media room. Everything is top quality and yet unlike other modern stadia it still retains its atmosphere. The Benfica museum is also top quality with a vast array of trophies from the glorious past including European Cups from the Super Eagles glorious years as the best in Europe in the 60’s. Special mention for the display of lifesize golden trophies. Outside the stadium is a statue of perhaps the greatest Portuguese player of all time – Eusebio – but perhaps the most enduring monument is the tribute to Hungarian Miklos Feher, the Benfica striker who died on the field of play in January 2004. The tour of the stadium is not to be missed.

Stadio Communale Artemio Franchi, Firenze, Italia

March 22, 2008

Home of Fiorentina. An unusual ground by modern standards in that only one side has a stand. On the other three sides you are well exposed to the elements. The away supporters end is little more than a cage and its quite a novelty to view. The pitch itself is surrounded by a glass fence meaning that vision is not impaired. Theres no running track which means that those seated near the front are only about 10 feet from the players. Opposite the main stand is a rather unusual flag tower called The Tower of Marathon