It was the Swiss-born Hans Gamper who was the major figure in the development of FC Barcelona, from its beginnings in 1899.
Firstly, he scored over a century of goals for the club he helped form, and then later became a hugely influential club president – acquiring the club's first ground, taking them into the Spanish League and, indeed, helping them become the first ever Spanish champions.
This was a feat they repeated to celebrate their centenary and in the 2008/09 they became the first ever Spanish side to achieve the 'triple' of League, Cup and European success.
The whole catalogue of Barcelona's trophies would fill a page but it can be summarised by 19 league titles; 25 cup final victories; Champions' League winners in 1992, 2006 and 2009; UEFA Cup winners four times and the old Inter Cities Fairs Cup three times.
The capital of the Catalan region of Spain, FC Barcelona has always been aware of its geographical, social and political differences with the rest of Spain – especially with the capital, Madrid. There were times during the Franco years when neither Catalan flag nor language were permitted and the football club became a symbol for the Catalan people. It was this that led to Barcelona being known as 'more than a club' and cemented the close links between supporters and their team.
Even today, the fans are inordinately proud of the fact that, more than almost any other top team in Europe, Barcelona is able to develop its own players through its enviable youth system. It is certain that few other teams could win a Champions' League final, as Barcelona did, with seven players having been brought up 'through the ranks'.
For the record, the players concerned were Valdés, Puyol, Piqué, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and even Lionel Messi, who joined the club as a thirteen year old.
Previous world class players to have represented Barca include such as Lineker, Ronaldo, Hagi, Laudrup, Cruyff, Neeskens, Stoikov, Rivaldo, Romário, Schuster, Koeman, Rivaldo, Figo and, of course, Maradona.
Internationally famous managers such as Bobby Robson, Terry Venables, César Luis Menotti and Luis Aragonés have held control here. And now one of Barcelona's ever favourite players – the inspirational midfielder Pep Guardiola – is proving to be one of its finest managers as well.
FC Barcelona Fixtures