Next week sees the return of Europe’s biggest football competition – the UEFA Champions League – and the tournament promises to be one of the most competitive of all time, with the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris St. Germain and Real Madrid all looking to claim the famous trophy.
Since the tournament was rebranded as the Champions League in 1992/93, a total of 13 different teams have won the trophy, with 7 countries producing the various winning teams. Some of the most dramatic games of all time have been played in the final – a match usually considered the centrepiece of club football for the season.
Here is a look at every Champions League winner since the tournament was rebranded in 1992/93.
1992/93 – Marseille
French champions Marseille won the first tournament under the new UEFA Champions League branding after the old European Cup format was retired at the end of the 1991/92 season. The tournament featured a strange format with knockout games that led to a group stage to decide the two finalists, who turned out to be Marseille and AC Milan.
A relatively tight final saw Marseille triumph over Milan 1-0 thanks to a goal from defender Basile Boli, but controversy later ensued when it emerged that Marseille’s president Bernard Tapie had fixed a domestic game against Valenciennes in order to focus on the final against Milan. Marseille were subsequently stripped of their French title, and although they were not stripped of their Champions League victory, they were banned from defending their title in the next edition of the tournament.
1993/94 – AC Milan
Fabio Capello’s AC Milan side made history in the 1993/94 edition of the tournament by thumping Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona side by 4 goals in the final. Cruyff’s famous Barca side – commonly known as ‘The Dream Team’ – had waltzed to a domestic title that year, propelled by the incredible attacking talents of Romario, Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov.
They were thoroughly destroyed in one of the most one-sided Champions League finals in history though, as Milan dismantled them in a major shocker. Fascinatingly, despite winning the final 4-0, Milan’s success was built upon an incredibly tight defence – Capello’s side conceded just 2 goals in the whole tournament across 12 games.
1994/95 – Ajax
Defending champions Milan made it to the final again in 1994/95, but this time they were beaten by a much-beloved Ajax side that featured a blend of unsung heroes like Finidi George and Jari Litmanen, veterans like Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard, and outstanding youngsters such as Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert – who scored the winning goal in their 1-0 final victory.
Louis Van Gaal’s side were so good that they went through the entire Champions League run unbeaten – a feat they also matched in their domestic league, meaning they were undefeated for a wild total of 48 matches across the season. Interestingly, 1994/95 marks the last time a side from the Netherlands won the famous trophy.