Watch: The story of the Uefa Champions League anthem



In the world of sport, there is arguably no tune more synonymous with a tournament than the Champions League anthem that plays before Uefa’s premier European football event.

“It’s actually pretty nice when you walk out onto the pitch and you listen to it. You then know it’s a different match. It reminds you how special and important this competition is,” Lionel Messi told Uefa in a video piece about the anthem that has become such an integral part of the event.

Indeed, the anthem is so popular that the Cristiano Ronaldo was seen mouthing its lyrics before a match and the video promptly went viral.

Here’s a brief history about the anthem:

The stirring overture to the Uefa Champions League is based on George Frideric Handel’s Zadok The Priest, first heard at the coronation in London of King George II in 1727, 265 years before it was adapted by British composer Tony Britten and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin In The Fields Chorus. Britten was asked to write something serious and classical because, back then, the Three Tenors were hugely popular after their performance at the 1990 Fifa World Cup in Italy. The official Uefa Champions League anthem is now almost as iconic as the trophy.  

— via Uefa official website

Speaking to Uefa, composer Britten said: “When [Uefa] said they wanted music which would reflect the gravitas and the importance of this new competition that they were launching (in 1992) it was very useful to have a reference handled. Zadok the Priest is such an affirmation of power, success and grandeur; written for King George’s coronation.”

Lyrics of the Champions League anthem that mix elements from the three official UEFA languages — English, French and German: 

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Es sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

Une grande réunion
Eine grosse sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

— via Uefa official website (Copyright: The Music Agency 1992)

Talking to BBC, the composer Tony Britten said: “Some say the tune is nicked from Handel but it’s not. It’s just the first writing string phrase and the rest is me. I remember asking ‘where are the words?’ and they said they didn’t know but that they wanted something in Uefa’s three official languages – English, German and French. So, I came up with a set of superlatives. ‘The greatest’, ‘the best’, ‘the masters’, ‘the main event’, ‘the champions’ and translated between those languages. It all came together in a matter of weeks and the actual composing process was just a matter of days.”

And in that process, flourished a tune that gives goosebumps to not just the players at the venue but even fans.

You can watch the story of the anthem in the videos below:





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