Spain: The dawn of the great Camp Nou 66 years ago

source:; author: Kuba Kowalski

Spain: The dawn of the great Camp Nou 66 years ago September 24, 1957, sunny Barcelona. For the first time in history the world saw Camp Nou filled with fans. These spectators were watching a game that included the FC Barcelona team and... a Warsaw XI.


The beginning of the biggest stadium in Europe

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Is Camp Nou the most recognisable stadium in the world? It is certainly one of those that is simply unique. Or rather, it was - its expansion will make it lose its uniqueness and its aura. So far The construction of Spotify Camp Nou is going according to plan and the footage from the worksite is heartbreaking. But what was the beginning of the legendary arena like?

The pitch of the new stadium was dug 8 metres below ground level. It was surrounded on all sides by uniform, gently profiled, two-tier stands. Much more technical nuances and history of not only Camp Nou, but also of FC Barcelona's previous stadiums can be found at the page of this arena on our website. The capacity of the venue was originally 93,053 spectators. Plans for further expansion to a capacity of up to 150,000 spectators were also drawn up at the time of design.

Camp Nou during inauguration

A grand opening and a surprising rival

The opening of the new stadium took place on September 24, 1957, although finishing work was still underway. Legia Warsaw were invited to the inauguration, but by decision of the Polish Football Association a team made up of players from all over Poland flew out to Barcelona to play under the banner of the Warsaw XI, with the Mermaid crest on their shirts. This game featured many well-known players in Poland from different clubs. The opening match, in front of an audience of 90,000, was won 4:2 by the hosts.

One of them, Henryk Szczepański, described that match as follows: We flew to Barcelona for the opening of their stadium, I think via Amsterdam, but it wasn't a pre-planned match. Barcelona had 24 players on the bench, we had 13 from us. Eleven played, two sat, except that two had already fallen after the first half and we were left with a 'bare' eleven for the second half. To be able to play this match was a great experience for us. The rivals were strong, not technical players of the type of Messi, Neymar or someone else, but really fast. They were flying like they were possessed. There were no leaders, but there was a team. (...) At halftime everyone would lie down on the ground and just look up to the Mother of God to catch their breath.

Warsaw XI for match against Barcelona

The new venue was simply named, Estadi del FC Barcelona (FC Barcelona stadium). This name was confirmed in a club referendum in 1965, although in fact an even simpler name, Camp Nou (the new stadium), was settled among supporters. In the 2000/01 season, another vote was held among the club's members and this time it was Camp Nou that was approved as the official name. In the decades that followed, Spain's largest stadium hosted for example the World Cup and the Olympic Games.