Prior to the outbreak of World War II, there had been several attempts to create a competition for Clubs from different countries to compete for the one trophy, although they were usually invitational and only included
teams from certain countries. Due to the aftermath of the First World War, the British Football Associations refused to take part in any European wide competitions, citing an unwillingness to participate in international
competitions with their recent World War enemies, and even went as far as to withdraw from FIFA. They finally agreed to return after World War II in 1945.
The Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones (South American Championship of Champions) was held in Chile in 1948, becoming the first proper continental wide tournament, and was as successful financially as it
was on the field. French journalist Jacques Ferran was in Chile to cover the story for French newspaper L'Equipe, and became fascinated with the idea of a continental club champions tournament. On his return to
France, he took the idea to the newspapers editor, former footballer Gabriel Hanot, and the pair immediately began designing blueprints for a European version of the competition.
Meanwhile, in the summer of 1953 the reigning English Champions Wolverhampton Wanderers played in a series of high profile friendlies against foreign opposition, and recorded victories over Borussia Dortmund,
Valcencia, Real Madrid, Spartak Moscow, Racing Club of Argentina and Honved of Hungary, causing the English media to proclaim Wolves as "Champions of the World". This spurred Hanot to push the newly formed
UEFA to introduce an official European wide club tournament, and after being proposed at the 1955 UEFA Congress, the competition was approved and began in the 1955-56 season based on L'Equipe's
The first competition was by invitation, and Hibs became the first British Club to play in Europe, with the English FA refusing to let Chelsea take part. Hibs reached the Semi-Finals, where the were defeated by French
club Stade de Reims, who in turn lost to Real Madrid in the first Final. Over the next few seasons the rules were changed so that only League Champions from each country would take part, and the number of
countries participating increased from 16 to 32. Madrid went on to win the first 5 competitions, with the last of those five being the famous 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden Park, and the early tournaments
were dominated by teams from Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Celtic became the first British team to win the European Champions Cup in 1967, when they beat Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon, with Manchester United winning the trophy the following season. The 1970's were dominated
by Ajax and Bayern Munich before Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa kept the Cup in England for six years in a row.
With Hibs, Rangers, Hearts, Dundee, Kilmarnock, Celtic and Aberdeen having taken part in the competition, United became the 8th Scottish Club to enter the European Cup when they won the Scottish Premier
Division in 1982/83. The Club remarkably reached the Semi Finals of the 1983/84 competition, narrowly losing out to Italian side Roma and a place in the Final against Liverpool. With United reaching the semi's,
Scotland became the only country to have two different cities (Glasgow and Dundee) that have produced two semi-finalists.
The tournament carried on in the same format from 1968 to 1992, when it was reformatted and rebranded as the UEFA Champions League.