Early years (1899-1908)
The ad in Los DeportesOn 22 October 1899 Joan Gamper placed an advert in Los Deportes declaring his wish to form a football club. A positive response resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Sole on November 29. Eleven players attended: Gualteri Wild, Lluís d'Ossó, Bartomeu Terradas, Otto Kunzle, Otto Maier, Enric Ducal, Pere Cabot, Josep Llobet, John Parsons, and William Parsons. As a result Foot-Ball Club Barcelona was born. Several other Spanish football clubs, most notably Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, also had British founders, and as a result they initially adopted English-style names.
Joan Gamper used his past to form the team. Prior to forming this club, he played for Swiss clubs like FC Basel and FC Zurich. Even with forming the colors and crest of FC Barcelona, he looked back on his past clubs. He took Basel's colors and parts for the crest to form his new club.
FC Barcelona quickly emerged as one of the leading clubs of both Catalonia and Spain as they competed in both the Campionat de Catalunya and the Copa del Rey. In 1901 they won their first trophy when they won the Copa Macaya and in 1902 they also played in the first Copa del Rey final, losing 2-1 to Club Vizcaya.
With Gamper's seal (1908-1923)
In 1911 Joan Gamper became club president for the first time. Gamper took over the presidency as the club was on the verge of folding. The club had not won anything since the Campionat de Catalunya of 1905 and its finances suffered as a result. Gamper was subsequently club president on five separate occasions between 1908 and 1925 and spent 25 years at the helm. One of his main achievements was to help Barça acquire its own stadium. On March 14 1909, it moved into the Carrer Industria, a stadium with a capacity of 6,000. Gamper also launched a campaign to recruit more club members and by 1922 the club had over 10,000. This led to the club moving again, this time to Les Corts, which inaugurated in the same year. This stadium had an initial capacity of 20,000, later expanded to an impressive 60,000.
Gamper also recruited Paulino Alcántara, the club's all time top-scorer with 356 goals, and in 1917 appointed Jack Greenwell as manager. This saw the club's fortunes begin to improve on the field. During the Gamper era FC Barcelona won eleven Campionat de Catalunya, six Copa del Rey and four Coupe de Pyrenées and enjoyed its first golden age. As well as Alcántara the Barça team under Greenwall also included Sagibarbá, Ricardo Zamora, Josep Samitier, Félix Sesúmaga and Franz Platko.
Rivera, Republic and Civil war (1923-1939)
In the midst of the glorious 20's, Barca suffered of non-sporting conflicts which were to mark the following decade. On 14th June 1925, during Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, the crowd at a game in homage to the Orfeo Catalan jeered the Royal March and as a reprisal the ground closed for six months, later reduced to three, and forced Gamper to give up the presidency of the club. The club's founder, after a period of depression brought on by personal and money problems comitted suicide on July 30 1930.
Although they continued to have players of the standing of Josep Escolà, the club now entered a period of decline, in which political conflict overshadowed sport throughout society. Barca faced a crisis on three fronts: financial, social, with the number of members dropping constantly, and sporting, where although the team won the Campionat de Catalunya in 1929-30, 1930-31, 1931-32, 1934-34, 1935-36 and 1937-38, success at Spanish level evaded them.
A month after the civil war began, Barça's left-wing president Josep Suñol i Garriga (a.k.a. Josep Sunyol) was murdered by Franco's soldiers near to Guadalajara. In 1937, the squad was on a tour in Mexico and USA in which the team was received as an ambassador of the fighting Second Spanish Republic. Moreover, it proved the financial saving of the club, also resulted in half the team seeking exile in Mexico and France. On 16th March 1938 the fascists dropped a bomb on the club's social club and caused serious damage. A few months later, Barcelona was under fascist occupation and as a symbol of the 'undisciplined' Catalanism, the club, now down to just 3,486 members, was facing a number of serious problems.
C. de F. Barcelona (1939-1974)
Club shield during the Franco dictatorship. After the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan language and flag were banned and football clubs were prohibited from using non-Spanish names. These measures led to the club having its name forcibly changed to Club de Fútbol Barcelona and the removal of the Catalan flag from the club shield. During the Franco era one of the few places that Catalan could be spoken freely was within the club's stadium.
In 1943, at Les Corts, for the first leg of the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid, the result was a 3-0 win for Barça. Before the second leg, Barcelona's players were threatened to a changing room visit from Franco's director of state security. He 'reminded' them that they were only playing due to the 'generosity of the regime'. Madrid side won that game 11-1.
Despite the difficult political situation, CF Barcelona enjoyed considerable success during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1945, with Josep Samitier as coach and players like César, Ramallets and Velasco, they won La Liga for first time since 1929. They added two more titles in 1948 and 1949. In 1949 they also won the first Copa Latina. Coach Fernando Daucik and Ladislao Kubala, regarded by many as the club's best ever player, inspired the team to five different trophies including La Liga, the Copa del Generalisimo, the Copa Latina and the Copa Eva Duarte in 1952. In 1953 they helped the club win La Liga and the Copa del Generalisimo again. The club also won the Copa del Generalisimo in 1957 and the Fairs Cup in 1958.
With Helenio Herrera as coach, a young Luis Suárez, the European Footballer of the Year in 1960, and two influential Hungarians recommended by Kubala, Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor, the team won another national double in 1959 and a La Liga/Fairs Cup double in 1960. In 1961 they became the first club to beat Real Madrid in a European Cup game, thus ending their monopoly of the competition.
The 1960s were less successful for the club, with Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid monopolising La Liga. The completion of the Camp Nou, finished in 1957, meant the club had little money to spend on new players. However the decade also saw the emergence of Josep Fusté and Carles Rexach and the club winning the Copa del Generalisimo in 1963 and the Fairs Cup in 1966. Barça restored some pride by beating Real Madrid 1-0 in the 1968 Copa del Generalisimo final at the Bernabéu. The club changed its official name back to Futbol Club Barcelona in 1974.
The 1973/74 season saw the arrival of a new Barça legend – Johan Cruijff. Already an established player with Ajax, Cruijff quickly won over the Barça fans when he told the European press he chose Barça over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with Franco. He further endeared himself when he chose a Catalan name, Jordi, for his son. He helped the club win La Liga for the first time since 1960, along the way defeating Real Madrid 5-0 at the Bernabéu. He was also crowned European Footballer of the Year while at club.
The stability years (1978-1988)
Josep Lluís Núñez was elected president of FC Barcelona in 1978. His main objectives were to establish Barça as a world-class sports club and to give the club financial stability.
In 1979 and 1982 the club won two of four European Cup Winners' Cups won in the Núñez era. In 1982 Diego Maradona was signed for a world record fee from Boca Juniors. However his time with Barça was short-lived and unsuccessful and he soon left for Napoli. At the start of the 1984/85 season, Terry Venables was hired as manager and he won La Liga with stellar displays by German midfielder Bernd Schuster. The next season, he took the team to their second European Cup final, only to lose on penalties to Steaua Bucureşti.
After the 1986 World Cup, English top scorer Gary Lineker was signed along with goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta but the team could not achieve success while Schuster was excluded from the team. Terry Venables was subsequently fired at the beginning of the 1987/88 season and replaced with Luis Aragones. That season finished with a rebellion of the players against president Núñez known as the Motin del Hesperia and the 1-0 victory at the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad.
The Dream Team (1988-1996)
In 1988 Johan Cruijff returned to the club as manager, assembling the so-called Dream Team, named after the US basketball team that played at the 1992 Summer Olympics hosted by Barcelona. He introduced players like Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, Txiki Beguiristáin, Jon Andoni Goikoetxea, Gheorghe Hagi, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário and Hristo Stoichkov. This team won La Liga four consecutive times from 1991 to 1994. They beat Sampdoria in both the 1989 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final and the 1992 European Cup final at Wembley. They also won a Copa del Rey in 1990, the European Super Cup in 1992 and three Supercopa de España. With 11 trophies, Cruijff became the club's most successful manager to date. He also became the club's longest serving manager. However, in his final two seasons, he failed to win any trophies and fell out with president Núñez, resulting in Cruijff's departure.
Towards the centenary (1996-2000)
Cruijff was briefly replaced by Bobby Robson who took charge of the club for a single season in 1996/97. He is quoted as saying, "Catalonia is a country and FC Barcelona is their army". He recruited Ronaldo from his previous club, PSV Eindhoven and delivered a cup treble winning the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the Supercopa de España. Despite his success, Robson was only ever seen as a short-term solution while the club waited for Louis van Gaal to become available. Like Maradona, Ronaldo only stayed a short time and he left for Inter Milan. However, new heroes such as Luís Figo, Giovanni Silva De Oliveira, Patrick Kluivert, Luis Enrique Martínez and Rivaldo emerged and the team won a Copa del Rey/La Liga double in 1998. In 1999 the club celebrated its 'centenari' by winning the La Liga title, and by having its star Rivaldo become the fourth Barça player to be awarded European Footballer of the Year. Despite this domestic success, the failure to emulate Real Madrid's success in the UEFA Champions League led to van Gaal and Núñez's resignation in 2000.
Gaspart's decline period (2000-2003)
The departures of Nuñez and Van Gaal were nothing compared to that of Luís Figo. As well as club vice-captain, Figo had become a cult hero and was considered by Catalans to be one of their own. So the Barça fans were distraught by Figo’s decision to join arch-rivals Real Madrid and during subsequent visits to the Camp Nou Figo was given an extremely hostile reception, including one occasion when a pig's head was thrown at him from the crowd. The next three years saw the club in decline and managers came and went, including a short second spell by Louis van Gaal. Gaspart did not inspire confidence off the field either and in 2003 he and Van Gaal resigned.
The current era (2003-present)
FC Barcelona 2005 team photograph: After the disappointment of the Gaspart era, the combination of a new young president Joan Laporta and a young new manager, former Dutch and AC Milan star Frank Rijkaard, saw the club bounce back. During this time Barça earned a new tagline: Blaugrana Al Vent, which in Catalan, the official language of Catalonia, means "The Blue and Red, Flowing in the Wind". On the field, an influx of talented international players, including Ronaldinho, Deco, Ludovic Giuly, Samuel Eto'o, Rafael Márquez and Giovanni van Bronckhorst combined with a nucleus of home grown Catalonian players such as Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, and Víctor Valdés. The result was the club's return to success.
In the 2004/05 season, Barça had a 3-0 win over fierce rivals Real Madrid at the Camp Nou and another 2-0 win vs Valencia CF at their home stadium, the Mestalla. In the UEFA Champions League 2004-05 Barça were eliminated by Chelsea FC 5-4 on aggregate. The first leg started a rivalry between the two clubs after Chelsea manager José Mourinho said that he had seen referee Anders Frisk invite Barça manager Frank Rijkaard into his room at half-time. As a result of these claims, Frisk announced his immediate retirement, citing threats made to his family. Despite the hard-fought loss of the UEFA Champions League, Barça were crowned champions of La Liga, and stars Ronaldinho and Eto'o were voted first and third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards. Barça also won the Supercopa de España, with a victory over Real Betis.
The 2005-06 season has been the pinnacle of the Laporta reign so far. In November 2005 Barça beat Real Madrid 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in a match where Ronaldinho was so impressive that after his second, and Barça's third goal the Real Madrid fans felt compelled to applaud him. This match also gave Barça manager Frank Rijkaard his second victory at the stadium of Real Madrid, making him the first Barça manager to win there twice. Barcelona went on to win the championship of La Liga with ease, as well as the Supercopa de España with a victory over Catalan rivals Espanyol.
In the UEFA Champions League that season, Barça beat Chelsea FC 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in a match which saw the international debut of Lionel Messi. In the semi-final of the competition Barça beat A.C. Milan 1-0 on aggregate, at the San Siro, and went on to beat Arsenal F.C. to win the final on May 17, 2006. Trailing 1-0 to the English side, with less than 15 minutes left, they came back to win 2-1, for the club's first UEFA Champions League victory in 14 years. This victory sparked scenes of jubilation from Barcelona fans with ecstatic culérs celebrating in the obvious scene of La Rambla and members of Barça fan clubs celebrating in the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid and all over the world.
They took part in the FIFA Club World Cup 2006, making it to the final against Internacional., only to be beaten by a late goal.
Despite being the favorites and starting strongly, Barcelona finished the 2006-07 in second place. A pre-season US tour was later blamed for a string of injuries to key players, including leading scorer Eto'o and rising star Messi. There was open feuding as Eto'o publicly criticized coach Frank Rijkaard and star Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho also admitted that lack of fitness affected his form.
In La Liga, Barça was in first place for much of the season while arch-rivals Real Madrid were six points behind and in fourth. However Barça began playing inconsistently after January, while Madrid's form improved in that same period. On May 12, 2007, Real Madrid took the league lead for the first time all season by defeating Espanyol 4-3, coming back from 1-3 first half deficit. The Sunday after Madrid won their epic battle with Espanyol, Barca dropped points with a 1-1 draw to struggling Real Betis. By virtue of their superior head to head record, Madrid sat at the top of La Liga with both teams having four league games left. On the penultimate day of the season, Barca failed to overcome city-rivals Espanyol in the Catalonia derby, drawing 2-2 thanks in part to a one-game suspension to Ronaldinho. In the final La Liga match, Barca thrashed Gimnastic 5-1, but Madrid came back from a 0-1 deficit to beat Mallorca 3-1 and clinch the title on head-to-head superiority.
Barça was unable to retain the Champions League, as they were beaten by eventual runners-up Liverpool in the 1st knockout round. Barça advanced to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, winning the first leg 5-2, but then surprisingly lost the second leg 4-0 to Getafe, and went out 6-5 on aggregate.
To be continued!!!
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