Definition of European Cup

What is now known as the UEFA Champions League has only been around for a relatively short amount of time. Previously it was known as the European Cup, with league winners from all over the continent coming up against one another to see who was the best.

The meaning of the term European Cup is explained when it comes to soccer / football on the old continent.The European Cup was formed partially in response to South America's Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones (or "South American Championship of Champions"). Europe wanted a similar competition and got it. Despite many top teams competing, Real Madrid won the first 5 editions of the cup, helping along their top spot as the most successful club on the European stage. Yet, despite this early monopoly, the European Cup would become the most valuable trophy on the continent over time.

However, this dominance would not continue. Portuguese Benfica knocked them off the pedestal, before AC Milan did the same. The first British team to win the competition was actually from Scotland, with Celtic winning in 1967. Manchester United were not far behind, winning it the next year.

The competition has actually seen many teams hold the title, including Real Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Ajax and even Nottingham Forest. Interestingly enough, the European Cup has seen a wider variation of teams winning it compared to the new format of the Champions League.

The last 2 years of the European Cup would be won by 2 teams from the opposite end of the footballing spectrum: underdogs Red Star Belgrade from Yugoslavia in 1991 and Johann Cruyff's Barcelona in 1992. After this, the competition transformed into the Champions League as we know it.