FC Barcelona, founded in 1899 by a group of young foreigners living in Barcelona, was the result of the increasing popularity of football, and other British sports, across Europe. These origins have conferred upon the Club its intercultural identity, multi-sport focus and its deeply-rooted allegiance to Barcelona and Catalonia. Joan Gamper, the Club’s founder, was the inspiration and driving force behind the Club’s first 25 years. His commitment to FC Barcelona went far beyond his role as player, director and president. The Club continued to grow in line with the burgeoning popularity of football across Europe in the 1920s and 30s. FC Barcelona were put to the test by events off the field as the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent victory for the Nationalist forces threatened the Club’s very existence. In the 1950’s the institution of FC Barcelona began to recover and part of that resurgence saw them leave their old ground of Les Corts for a new stadium, Camp Nou, which was opened on 24 September.
Success on the field in the late 1950s and 60s gave way to a dormant period in the Club’s history and it was not until the arrival of Dutchman Johan Cruyff in 1974 that the Blaugranes once again regained their place amongst the elite of European Football. In 1979 Barça won the European Cup Winners’ Cup for the first time, and three years later they repeated the feat. Their first European Cup came in 1992 with a victory over Sampdoria in the final that was played at Wembley Stadium in London. Johan Cruyff had returned to the club, this time as coach, and his assembled side, known as the ‘Dream Team’, also claimed yet another Cup Winners’ Cup and four consecutive league titles. The late 1990s brought more trophies in the form of another Cup Winners’ Cup and two consecutive league titles under Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal. The turn of the century brought changes at the club and stability was returned with the arrival of another Dutchman as coach, Frank Rijkaard. The former AC Milan player led the team to their second European Cup, now known as the Champions League, as well as two more league titles.
Success under Frank Rijkaard was the springboard for a period of unparalleled excellent under the Dutchman’s successor, Josep Guardiola. In 2009 the Club performed the extraordinary feat of winning all six major trophies they were competing for. Between 2008 and 2012 the football first team won amongst other things two more Champions League trophies, three league titles and a much awaited first World Club Cup title. Silverware came not just in football but also in the other sports at the Club such as basketball, handball, roller hockey and futsal.
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