26th of May 1999 is a date that will ever be engraved in Manchester United fans' hearts and minds. Well, that date will probably be remembered by all football fans' hearts and minds. That was, in case it slipped your minds, the final of the Champions League at Camp Nou.
Bayern Munich and Manchester United teamed up for a match that would determine which of the two would win a historical continental treble. At the end of regulation, before Italian referee Pierluigi Collina added 3 extra minutes of injury time, United was behind 0-1. By the end of the added time, the result on the scoreboard read: Manchester United 2 Bayern Munich 1. It was probably the most dramatic makeover in the history of football.
Manchester United was founded in 1878 under the name of Newton Heath LYR Football Club. It changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford, its home stadium since, in 1910.
Manchester United holds English and Premier League records for 20 League titles, 12 FA Cups (the latest being their 2016 win over Crystal Palace) and 21 FA Community Shields. When adding 3 Champions League, 1 Europa League, 1 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup, it is no wonder why United is considered to be one of the most successful clubs in football. The most remembered season in club's history is probably the treble season of 1998–99.
Two legendary managers worked at the club in different eras and left a wide and rich legacy. Sir Matt Busby was appointed in 1945 and led the club until 1969. During his tenure the Red Devils became a winning team and started gaining titles after a long break that had lasted for almost 40 years. Under Busby United won 5 league championships, 2 FA Cups and 5 Community Shields. The most desired title, the European Champions Cup, was won in 1968 with a legendary side nicknamed The Busby Babes, led by the three star they called the Holy Trinity - Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law. The first European Cup was won 4-1 over Benefica at Wembley Stadium in extra time. It made United the first English team (and the second British team after Celtic Glasgow) to win the European Cup. It was an epic achievement at the end of a great managerial career. It also symbolized the full resurrection of the club, after the tragedy that struck in Munich 958, after the team plane crushed in Munich Airport, killing eight players and injured many, including Busby.
United second period of greatness occurred under Sir Alex Ferguson. He was appointed in 1986 and led the club until 2013. During his reign, United won 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 11 Community Shields, 2 Champions League, 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. Ferguson had a talent for discovering and nourishing young talent. Gary Neville, Phil Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney are just several of the players who became world famous under his guidance.
Along United long and illustrious way, there were many remarkable players. For example, Harry Gregg, who survived the Munich Disaster and three months later led his team in the FA Cup Final Sir Bobby Charlton, another survivor, who became one of the greatest symbols of the club and the national team Bryan Robson, who served as team captain for 12 years, and of course Best, considered by many to be the greatest player to ever play for United.
Ryan Giggs holds many club records, including the caps (963 in total and 672 league games between 1990-2014), eclipsing Charlton's record of 758 caps. Charlton is 2nd on the scorers list with 249 goals, following Wayne Rooney with 253 goals in 559 caps.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who played for Manchester United between 2003-2009, moved to Real Madrid for the extraordinary sum of £80 million, then a transfer record.
Biggest rivals of Manchester United are Manchester City and the England's north-west neighbor Liverpool. The Derby of Manchester is one of the greatest Derbies of English and international football and the north-west derby against Liverpool considered by many as the most famous and important fixture in English football.
Old Trafford, home stadium of the club since its inauguration in 1910, captures the spirit and the legends of the club. Watching a game in this 75,635 seats capacity stadium is an experience that will be remembered for life. Once there, one can better understand its nickname coined by Charlton - Theatre of Dreams.
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