Thursday, December 01, 2005

F.C. Barcelona History

Hans Gamper and his friends were playing an unknown sport called 'foot-ball' in a place in Catalonia. When Gamper went on to found Barcelona Football Club on 29 November 1899, he could hardly have imagined the momentous events that would follow!

During some of Catalonia's most difficult years, the flag meant the people's hopes for freedom, and nowadays that same flag is the symbolic link which continues to represent the ties between a very special club and its' fans.

In more than 100 years, the club has lived through moments of glory and tragedy, through good times and bad, through epic victories and crushing defeats. Each one of these moments has contributed to shaping Barcelona into the absolutely unique club that it is today.

Legendary players like Zamora, Samitier and many others started placing the club in a first line poisition with brilliant playing style, bringing the team to a Golden Age of expansion. By 1922, the club opened the doors of its stadium of Les Corts, which had an initial capacity of 30,000, later expanded to an impressive 60,000. Besides dominating Spanish and Catalan championships, they won the first edition of the Spanish League in 1929.

By the second half of the 1940s the institution started to recover from its problems, which almost led the club to disband. Players like Cesar, Ramallets, and Velasco won the First Division fifteen years after the first and only time. With political issues calming down, the style of football played, and titles being brought, financial problems started to fade as more people became members. In 1950 arrived one of the most important players for FC Barcelona, Ladislao Kubala. During the first years after his arrival the team won almost every competition they played in, and its forwards, Cesar, Basora, and Kubala himself are still remembered.

In 1957, the Camp Nou opened its doors to the public. It is adequate to keep in view that this project was personally endorsed by General Franco himself, who approved an extremely generous appraisal of the state where the Stadium was to be built, therefore fostering the financing of the enterprise. With a capacity for up to 90,000 spectators, the Camp Nou is one of the biggest stadiums in the world. Unfortunately, a few years after the inauguration, titles became scarce, as they only won three official titles during the 1960s. But even then the club did not stop growing, gaining social and economic power every year.

Unlike the decade of the 50s, when Real Madrid bought Argentinian player Alfredo Di Stefano from FC Barcelona, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff signed a contract with the club in 1973. His electric style of play, fast and smart, could not appeal more to the fans. Even the record amount of £922,300 paid by FC Barcelona for him seemed nothing after defeating Real Madrid 5-0 in their own stadium and winning the league. By the following year the club had 70,000 members, making it one of the most powerful in the world.

Josep Luis Nuñez became president of FC Barcelona in 1978, leading the club into an unprecedented period of social and economic growth.

Diego Maradona was signed for a world record fee from Argentinos Juniors. With just one King's Cup win at the club, Maradona's stint at the club was considered a failure, but his signing created huge publcity for the club internationally.

Dozens of titles were won by all teams later on and other sections seen as less important than the football team started to receive more attention.

During 1990-1994, Johan Cruyff's Dream Team , playing a Total Football system, won four consecutive Leagues and for a first time the Champions League (1992) among other trophies.

Bobby Robson took charge of the club for a single season in 96-97, he recruited Ronaldo from PSV Eindhoven (his previous club) and delivered a Cup Winners' Cup and Spanish Kings cup. Interestingly he also brought the famous Portuguese manager José Mourinho to the club. José Mourinho at that time helped Robson at training tasks and he was responsible for translating Robson's press conferences to journalists.

Robson's time was short lived as the club had already made an agreement with notorious Dutch manager Louis van Gaal. Despite the loss of Ronaldo to Internazionale of Milan Rivaldo joined the team and Barcelona twice won the Spanish League title. Despite their great results at domestically, Barcelona failed to win the Champions League. Due to heavy fan criticism after three seasons in 2000, van Gaal resigned.

Joan Gaspart was elected as the successor of Josep Lluis Nuñez in 2000. It was not an easy task considering his achievements and a lot of pressure was put on the new board of directors. Still, Joan Gaspart's perceived bad management led the club to a financial crisis. Poor judgement when using the club's funds, the absence of any important victory, and underperforming players made the social pressure unbearable, forcing him to resign in 2003. A temporary commission took over until current president Joan Laporta was elected in the same year.

Joan Laporta proved to be a better choice for FC Barcelona. Nowadays, leaded by Ronaldinho and former Dutch international Frank Rijkaard as coach the club started to prove to be the best in the globe. Massive inherited debts have been reduced, and only two players remain from the original team that did not win a major title in five years. In 2003/2004 Barcelona made a spectacular return to form, finishing second after being near the bottom of the table for much of the season. It was only because the revival started too late that Barcelona didn't claim the title that season. During 2004/2005, Barcelona led the table from the first day to the last to claim its 17th Spanish La Liga title on May 14th, 2005 and its 6th Spanish Supercup title on August 20th, 2005. Despite their exit from the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea, supporters and players alike are starting to believe that a third golden age is beginning. The young, ambitous team is playing the attractive, attacking football the fans demand and the results to date are promising, including a thorough 0-3 trashing of Real Madrid on November 19th, 2005, thanks to two glorious goals from Ronaldinho.

1 comment:

sony said...

BARCA for life!!!