From the earliest FA Cup finals in the 1870s between teams of former public schoolboys to the glittering world of 21st-century Champions League matches contested by squads of millionaires, The Times has been at pitchside to write the history of football as it has happened.
It is story of great matches: Hungary’s historic victory over England at Wembley in 1953, Manchester United’s triumph over Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final, Brazil’s thrashing of Italy in the 1970 World Cup final, Liverpool’s remarkable recovery to win the Champions League in Istanbul in 2005. It is a story of dazzling individual performances: Stanley Matthews finally winning an FA Cup winners’ medal at Wembley in 1953, Bobby Moore giving a masterclass in the art of defending for England against Brazil in the 1970 World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo’s virtuoso performance as Real Madrid won the 2017 Champions League. It is a story of national highs and lows, from Wembley in 1966 when England ruled the world after defeating West Germany to the humiliation of losing to Iceland in the 2016 European Championship.
But above all it is a story of great players, great managers and great personalities in a sport that grips the attention of the world like no other.