The UEFA Europa League evolved from the UEFA Cup, which itself was conceived by Switzerland's Ernst Thommen who, along with Italy's Ottorino Barrasi and England's Sir Stanley Rous, later FIFA President, created a tournament for representative sides from European cities that regularly held trade fairs.
This forerunner to the UEFA Cup, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, was founded on 18 April 1955, two weeks after the founding of the European Champion Clubs' Cup. The first Fairs Cup involved teams from Barcelona, Basle, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Leipzig, London, Milan and Zagreb. The original tournament lasted three years, with matches timed to coincide with trade fairs. Barcelona, using players purely from FC Barcelona, beat a London representative side 8-2 on aggregate in the final.
For the second tournament the organisers reverted to club participation but the teams still had to come from cities staging trade fairs. Sixteen clubs took part in the 1958-60 tournament, after which it was staged on an annual basis. By 1962 the number of entrants had risen to 32; there are now over 100. In its early years, teams from southern Europe dominated, notably Barcelona, who won it three times, and Valencia CF who won it twice. In 1968 Leeds United AFC became the first northern European club to win the trophy, heralding a run of six successive wins by English sides.
But following back-to-back victories by Real Madrid CF in the mid-1980s, Italian clubs took control in the 1990s. Starting with SSC Napoli's victory in 1989, Italian sides won the UEFA Cup eight times in eleven seasons, with FC Internazionale Milano winning it three times, before Galatasaray AS claimed it as Turkey's first European club prize in 2000. With the exception of 1964 and 1965, the final had, like the previous rounds, always been a two-legged, affair. The format changed permanently to a one-tie final in 1998 when Inter beat S.S. Lazio 3-0 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Inter, Juventus and Liverpool share the record of three UEFA Cup final successes apiece.
From 1999/00, domestic cup winners also qualified for the UEFA Cup after the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup was disbanded. In addition, clubs eliminated from the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and the eight third-placed finishers at the end of the group stage of the same competition entered the competition. A group stage was introduced for the first time in 2004/05 involving 40 teams playing four games.
UEFA Europa League
ROAD TO THE FINAL: The UEFA Europa League comprises three qualifying rounds, a play-off round, a group stage and five knockout rounds.
The 2013 UEFA Europa League final, awarded to the Amsterdam ArenA by the UEFA Executive Committee on 16 June 2011, will be the second major continental showpiece at the modern home of four-time European champions AFC Ajax.
The 2012/13 UEFA Europa League final will be held at the Amsterdam ArenA.
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - PREVIOUS WINNERS
2008/09 Shakhtar Donetsk
2004/05 CSKA Moskva
1985/86 Real Madrid
1984/85 Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League Cup
Best Free Bet Offers - Provided by engagesuperleague.co.uk
Click any of the bookmakers name to activate your free bet now.
Deposit £20, bet with £40. Create a Unibet account here >>.
Get free 5£ no deposit required on casino. Create a Betfair account here >>.
Deposit £200, bet with £400. Create a Bet365 account here >>.
Deposit £25, bet with £50. Create a new Offsidebet account here >>.
Deposit 0, bet with £30. Create a new Sky Bet account here >>.