Monday, 22 June 2020

Historic football stadiums worth visiting in your lifetime

Watching world-famous players conjure magic in front of your very eyes, with the roar of the crowd filling your ears – there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as attending a football match in the flesh. With numerous European leagues such as the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga scheduled to begin new seasons later this year, here are six of the most iconic football stadiums to visit and catch a match at when we can all travel again.

Old Trafford football stadium
An aerial view of the iconic football stadium. Photo credit: PhotoLondonUK/Shutterstock.com

1. Old Trafford, Manchester

Manchester United is one of the world’s most popular football teams – and its home ground, Old Trafford, is almost as famous. Christened “The Theatre of Dreams” by club legend Sir Bobby Charlton, this is where many key matches have played out, including the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and A.C. Milan – the first final in the tournament’s history to feature two Italian clubs (the latter eventually won after a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out).

Visitors can join a Stadium Tour, during which you will get to visit the dressing rooms, dugout and more; you’ll even receive a personalised certificate as a special memento.

2. Anfield, Liverpool

Another top-tier English football team with an enormous global following, Liverpool F.C. has called Anfield home ever since it was formed in 1892. The legendary stadium – around an hour’s drive from Manchester – has built a reputation as a fortress of sorts, with Liverpool having enjoyed multiple seasons unbeaten at home since the club’s inception. It has also hosted various international matches and was selected as an official venue for the UEFA Euro 1996 tournament. A seat at the famed Kop end of the stadium, which traditionally hosts some of the club’s most faithful home supporters, is usually highly coveted – the atmosphere in the stands here is nothing short of electrifying.

Parc des Princes, Paris football stadium
Parc des Princes has served as a key venue for multiple international events. Photo credit: 1989studio/Shutterstock.com

3. Parc des Princes, Paris

Originally opened in 1897, Parc des Princes in the City of Lights’ 16th arrondissement has been rebuilt twice over the years. Completed in 1972, the current stadium, with its distinctive ribbed silhouette, is regarded as one of the most iconic sporting venues in Paris. Home to Paris Saint-Germain – arguably the most successful French club in history – it has also been used as a venue for key international tournaments, including the UEFA Euro 1984 and 2016, the 1960 European Nations’ Cup, the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

4. San Siro, Milan

The largest stadium in Italy, San Siro (formally known as the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium) in the eponymous district is home to not one but two clubs: A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. In fact, it was inaugurated in 1926 with a match between both teams, which saw the latter cruising to a comfortable 6-3 victory. Since then, it has hosted the 1934 FIFA World Cup, the 1990 FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Euro 1980, as well as four European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals. In 2026, it is scheduled to host the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, which is set to take place in Milan.

Camp Nou, Barcelona football stadium
Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe. Photo credit: Natursports/Shutterstock.com

5. Camp Nou, Barcelona

With an impressive seating capacity of 99,354, FC Barcelona’s stomping ground is the largest stadium in all of Europe. Completed in 1957, it has hosted two European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals over the years, as well as the 1982 FIFA World Cup. It was also the venue of choice for Pope John Paul II in 1982, who celebrated mass here (the pontiff was also made an honorary member of the football club). Try snagging tickets to watch an El Clásico match – essentially any fixture between FC Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid – which ranks among the most important club football games in the world.

6. Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Opened in 1947, Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid – around a three-hour train ride from Barcelona – has hosted many major international tournaments; in fact, it was the first stadium in all of  Europe to host both a UEFA Euro final and a FIFA World Cup final. The stadium is also the home ground of Real Madrid, which has clinched the European Cup/UEFA Champion’s League title a record 13 times, most recently during the 2017/2018 season. A roughly 90-minute tour of the stadium includes a visit to the on-site museum, which details the history of the club; the press room, where post-match conferences are conducted; the dressing room, where players convene before heading out onto the pitch; and more.

SEE ALSO: Over vales and hills: The enchantment of the Lake District

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