WHEN I was a kid, I used to read the International Football Book, a strange tome that was edited by the man who went on to form Charisma Records. In the back of the book, there was a list of all the major international teams’ records for the year, listing their line-ups in a chart that indicated each player’s position – G, RB, LB and so on. It also listed the venues of their games and it was from this book that my interest in overseas football and geography started.
I was fascinated by stories of how Austria had played in the Prater, Hungary in the Nep, Scotland at Hampden and of course, England at Wembley. I vowed that one day I would visit these places.
Here’s 10 of the most iconic stadiums from Europe:
The Nep Stadium, Budapest: The scene of England’s 7-1 thrashing in 1954. A monument to the mighty Magyars. Sadly crumbling today.
Prater Stadium, Vienna: Now the Ernst Happel Stadium. Sits luxuriously in the Prater Park in delightful Vienna.
The Olympic Stadium, Munich: One of the most striking structures. Has been overtaken by Bayern’s new home, but there is no place like it. Very 70s.
The Bernabeu, Madrid: The impressive home of Real Madrid.
Nou Camp, Barcelona: The equally impressive home of Barcelona.
The Strahov, Prague: Huge place in picturesque Prague. No longer used for football. Once could hold 200,000 people.
San Siro, Milan: Has looked better but currently being spruced up for the UEFA Champions League. Too big for current Milanese requirements.
De Kuip, Rotterdam: Worth seeing just for the iconic frontage. Love the way the players’ tunnel opens up like a sci-fi film.
Olympic Stadium Berlin: Hosted the 1936 Olympics, historic and eerie. Totalitarian architecture at its best.
Stade de Colombes, Paris: Hosted the 1938 World Cup final – and the film Escape to Victory.
Of course, there’s more that can be added to this list. But that’s another listicle for another time.