26th of May, 1999 is a date that will ever be engraved in Manchester United's fans hearts and minds and perhaps in all football fans' hearts and minds around the world. The final of the Champions League at Camp Nou stadium gathered Bayern Munich and Manchester United for a match that would determine which of the two would win a historical continental treble. At the end of the regular 90 minutes when Italian referee Pierluigi Collina added 3 more minutes of injury time MU was losing 0:1. By the end of the additional time, the result on the scoreboard showed: 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, in 1910.
Manchester United holds some national records; 20 League titles, 11 FA Cups (a record shared with Arsenal) and 20 FA Community Shields. When adding to this list four League Cups, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, and one FIFA Club World Cup it is no wonder why MU is considered to be one of the most successful clubs in football world. The most remembered season is probably 1998–99, due to the treble title completed with the heroic Champions League final in Barcelona.
Two legendary managers trained the club in different eras and left their legacy in it. First one is Matt Busby who was appointed in 1945 and led the club until 1969. During his time 'The Red Devils' became a winning team and started gaining titles after a long break that had lasted for almost 40 years. Under his management MU won 5 championships, 2 FA Cups, and 5 Community Shields. The most desired title, the European Cup, was won in 1968 with the legendary players nicknamed as the Holy Trinity, Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law (who didn't play the final match). The final at the Wembley Stadium ended in a 1:1 draw but in over time MU managed to beat Benfica (with Eusébio at its ranks) 4:1. It made MU the first English team (and the second British team) 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 from the tragedy that stroke it in the Munich Disaster in 1958. In this unfortunate event, an aircraft with the whole squad crashed at Munich's airport. 8 players were killed and many where injured, including Busby himself who suffered severe injuries and was literally struggling for his life.
Second manager is Alex Ferguson. He was appointed in 1986 and led the club until 2013. With him on lines MU won 13 championships, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 11 Community Shields, 2 Champions League Cups, 1 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1Fifa Club World Cup. Ferguson had a talent for discovering and nourishing young talents. Gary Neville, Phil Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Christiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Roonie are just the prominent names among many players that became world famous under Fergusson's guidance.
There are many remarkable players in the history of the 'Red Devils' and many legends are attached to their names. Some stand out more than others. For example, Harry Gregg who was a survivor of the Munich Disaster and 3 months later led his team in the FA Cup final and shortly after was also designated as the best goalkeeper of the 1958 World Cup. Bobbie Charlton, another survival of the tragedy, became one of the greatest symbols of the club and the national team. Bryan Robson who was for 12 years in a row the team captain. George Best and his flamboyant way of living is considered by many as the greatest player to ever play for MU in a period that lasted 11 years. Ryan Giggs, now in the managerial squad, holds many records at the club including the appearances record for the club (963 in total and 672 league games between 1990 and 2014) preceding Bobbie Charlton's record of 758 appearances. Charlton is first on the scorers list with 249 goals, second on that list is Denis Law with 237 goals in 404 games. Wayne Rooney, with 222 goals is third on the list and with an ongoing career has good chances to break the scoring record.
Christiano Ronaldo who played for Manchester United between 2003 and 2009 went to Real Madrid for the extraordinary sum of £80 million which is a transfer record of a player in the history of the club.
Biggest rivals of MU are Manchester City and the England's north west neighbor, Liverpool. The Derby of Manchester between the 'Red Devils' and the 'Citizens' is one of the greatest Derbies of English and international football and the North-West Derby against Liverpool is considered by many as the most famous and important fixture in English football.
After Ferguson's leave the team has gone through some turbulence and the 2013-2014 season was not very good. With new manager Louis Van Gaal and with worldwide players such as Rooney, Van Persie, Di Maria, Rojo, Falcao, Mata, Valencia, Fellaini and young goal keeper David de Gea Manchester United has high aspirations for the following seasons.
The 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 Bobby Charlton - Theatre of Dreams.
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