Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates with the trophy after the Champions League final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. In the absence of the Champions League final on Saturday, The Associated Press will take a look back at some of the greatest teams, players and matches in the history of the tournament. The AP will pick a topic for every letter of the alphabet to remember the greats of the game and the greatest games, going back to when the competition was called the European Cup and through its transformation into the Champions League. AC Milan soccer team captain Cesare Maldini, bottom right, lifts the European Cup after AC Milan defeated Benfica 2-1 in the final at Wembley Stadium in London. A is for AC Milan, the first Italian winners of the trophy. In the absence of the Champions League final on Saturday, The Associated Press will take a look back at some of the greatest teams, players and matches in the history of the tournament. The AP will pick a topic for every letter of the alphabet to remember the greats of the game and the greatest games, going back to when the competition was called the European Cup and through its transformation into the Champions League. Bela Guttmann, Hungarian-born soccer coach of European Cup holders Benfica of Portugal, gestures as he is interviewed by journalists in a hotel in London. B is for Benfica. In this case the 'Curse of Benfica.' Guttmann reportedly approached the Benfica board of directors and asked for a pay rise after leading them to their second European Cup triumph. However, despite the success he had brought the club, he was turned down. On leaving Benfica, he allegedly cursed the club declaring, "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions". Benfica have not won a European trophy since, despite getting to the final on numerous occasions. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, 2nd left, celebrates with his players after they won the Champions League final soccer match at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona, Spain. C is for Comeback. Manchester United's 2-1 win in the 1999 final when they scored two goals in injury time to clinch the trophy after trailing since early in the match is still considered one of the greatest comebacks in the tournament's history. Alfredo Di Stefano, far right, scores the first goal for Real Madrid in the European Cup Final, against Eintracht Frankfurt, at Hampden Park Stadium, in Glasgow. D is for Di Stefano. One of the games all time greats Di Stefan was instrumental in Real Madrid's dominance in the early years of the European Cup. Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal in extra time during the Champions League final soccer match against Atletico Madrid at the Luz Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal. E is for Extra Time. 17 European Cup and Champions League finals have gone on to extra time. Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o is fouled by Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann during their Champions League final soccer match in the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. F is for Foul. Lehmann was given a red card for this foul and despite leading for a long period of the match his absence cost the Arsenal side dearly as they went on to lose 2-1 to Barcelona. Players of the Scottish football club Glasgow Celtic throw up their arms in celebration after Stevie Chalmers scored their second goal in the European Cup Final soccer match against Inter Milan, in Lisbon, Portugal. G is for Glasgow Celtic, who became the first British team to win the trophy when they beat Italian giants Internzionale 2-1. All of Celtic's players were born within a 30-mile radius of Glasgow. Soccer fans are crushed against a collapsing wall in the Brussels Heysel stadium just prior to the European Cup Final soccer match between Liverpool and Juventus. H is for Heysel. The Heysel stadium disaster of 1985 shocked the world when 39 soccer supporters died, crushed in a stampede as fans tried to escape clashes between rival supporters on the terraces. Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus' Giorgio Chiellini react at the end of the Champions League final soccer match between Juventus and Real Madrid at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales. I is for Italy. Despite as a country having the third highest number of wins in the history of European Cup, Italy also holds the honor of most defeats in the final. 16 in all. Juventus have lost 7 of the 9 finals they have played in. Ajax striker Johan Cruyff, centre, in action during the during the final of the European Cup against Greece's Panathinaikos, at Wembley Stadium, in London. J is for Johan. Johan Cruyff was the most high profile player in the Dutch rise towards the top of the global game in the 1970s. He played a central role in Ajax's three consecutive European Cups. It was the Ajax team that would provide the core of the Netherlands national side, which was runner-up in the World Cups of 1974 and 1978. Kenny Dalglish of Liverpool, dark shirt, centre, scores the only goal of the match against Bruges during the European Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. K is for King Kenny. Dalglish's years at Liverpool were among the club's most successful periods and were very much part of England's dominance of the competition in the late 1970's and early 80's as first Liverpool, then Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa and then Liverpool again won the European Cup 7 times in 8 years. Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Manchester United during their Champions League final soccer match at Wembley Stadium, London. L is for Lionel Messi. The driving force behind Barcelona's most recent successes, Lionel Messi's current total of 114 goals is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo, and sets them both up as the joint greatest players of this generation. Liverpool's Luis Garcia, right, celebrates after his teammate Xabi Alonso, behind him at right, scored his team's 3rd goal, during the Champions League Final between AC Milan and Liverpool at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey. M is for Miracle, as in the Miracle of Istanbul. 3-0 down at halftime, Liverpool looked finished. But in an incredible six-minute period early in the second half, Liverpool, inspired by captain Steven Gerrard, had erased the deficit. The match ended up going to a penalty shootout, which Liverpool won to claim its fifth European Cup in the "The Miracle of Istanbul." Nottingham Forest's John Robertson, left, Ian Bowyer, center, and Kenny Burns, right, carry the European Cup in triumph after their 1-0 win against Malmo FF in Munich, Germany. N is for Nottingham Forest. Of all England's 13 wins Forest's consecutive triumphs in the 1979 and 1980 were the most unlikely. Only two-years before their win in Munich, Forest were playing in England's second tier, but their meteoric rise under the leadership of maverick boss Brian Clough is the stuff legends are made of. Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, center, scores his side's first goal during the Champions League final soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. O is for Offside. Many finals have thrown up controversial moments, but the admission by match referee Mark Clattenburg that Real Madrid's crucial opener in the 2016 Champions League final should have been ruled out for offside was one of the biggest. It was doubly galling for crosstown rivals Atletico who went on to lose the match on penalties, as they had fallen agonizingly close against the Real in the final in 2014 as well. Chelsea's Didier Drogba scores the decisive shootout penalty during the Champions League final soccer match between Bayern Munich and Chelsea in Munich, Germany. P is for Penalties. 11 finals have been decided in a penalty shootout. In this case Drogba scored the decisive penalty in the shootout as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League final after a dramatic 1-1 draw. AC Milan's Paolo Maldini, left, scores the opening goal during the Champions League Final soccer match between AC Milan and Liverpool at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Turkey, Istanbul. Q is for Quickest, as in the quickest goal scored in a Champions League final. Milan's Maldini scored in the first minute of the match as his team raced into a 3-0 half-time lead, before Liverpool's miracle comeback and penalty shootout win. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with fans after winning the Champions League Final soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. R is for Ronaldo. With his 128 goals and 5 titles Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the greatest Champions League player of all time. Jubilant Steaua Bucharest goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam raises the European Champions Cup after the Romainian team defeated Barcelona in penalties in Seville, Spain. S is for Steaua Bucharest. Steaua beat hot favorites Barcelona on penalties with goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam being labelled 'The Hero of Seville. It was the first European Cup final to finish goalless and remains Steaua's only European Cup triumph, and the first of only two won by an Eastern European club. Real Madrid players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Champions League Final soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. T is for Thirteen. Kiev 2018 was Real Madrid's thirteenth triumph in Europe's top soccer competition and makes them clearly the most successful team in the event's history. PSG forward Kylian Mbappe reacts end of the Champions League round of 16, 2nd leg, soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. U is for Under-achievers. For PSG the Champions League is the Holy Grail. Even with financial riches beyond the wildest dreams of most clubs and domination in domestic competitions, the Champions League, the ultimate goal, alludes them. Despite huge investment from their Qatari owners PSG have never made it to the semifinals. Manchester United's goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, left, celebrates after making the winning save from Nicolas Anelka to win the Champions League final soccer match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. V is for Van der Sar. No player in history has ever had a longer gap between two Champions League successes than Edwin van der Sar, the former Netherlands international winning the trophy or the first time with Ajax in 1995 before again lifting the trophy as a Manchester United player 13 years later. Juventus' Ciro Ferara, right, is challenged by AC Milan's Alessandro Nesta, left, and goalkeeper Dida, of Brazil, during the UEFA Champions League final between Juventus and AC Milan at Old Trafford, Manchester, England. W is for Worst. There have been many disappointing finals, but this ultra-dour and defensive 0-0 draw, despite the attacking talents of Shevchenko and Del Piero on display, that was decided on penalties is often labelled the worst final of all time. Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez is carried by his teammates as he holds the trophy after the Champions League final soccer match between Juventus Turin and FC Barcelona at the Olympic stadium in Berlin. X is for Xavi. Four-time winner Xavi Hernandez formed a formidable midfield partnership with Andres Iniesta and helped give the Catalan giants four wins in 9 years from 2006. Ajax's Clarence Seedorf, partially hidden left, and Edgar Davids, right, hold on to goalscorer Patrick Kluivert, center, as he raises the trophy in joy after Ajax won the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over AC Milan in Vienna. Y is for Youngest. Kluivert is the youngest player to score in the Champions League final, when he did so in the 1995 final aged 18 years and 327 days old. Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane scores the winning goal watched by Bayer Leverkusen's Michael Ballack during the UEFA Champions League final soccer match at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Z is for Zinedine Zidane. Zidane was one of the games all time greats and this goal that he scored against Leverkusen in the 2002 final one of the greatest goals to grace a final.
May 29, 2020
Memorable moments from years past have been frozen in time by AP photographers, from Real Madrid’s record 13 wins to Manchester United’s incredible injury-time comeback against Bayern Munich to Steaua Bucharest’s remarkable run to the title in 1986.
The AP will pick a topic for every letter of the alphabet to remember the greats of the game and the greatest games, going back to when the competition was called the European Cup and through its transformation into the Champions League.
Current greats like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be featured, but so will Johan Cruyff, Alfredo Di Stefano and Paolo Maldini. AC Milan, Chelsea and Barcelona will be in there, too, and so will Nottingham Forest, Benfica and Celtic.
There are even moments for Q and X.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports