The Champions: UEFA Champions League Anthem

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The UEFA Champions League returns this weekend with some exciting fixtures lined up for fans to enjoy.

Real Madrid have to overturn a 2-1 home deficit away to Manchester City, while Juventus host Lyon, looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit.

Napoli and Barcelona are tied at 1-1 going into the 2nd leg at Camp Nou, with Chelsea facing the toughest of tasks – they need to come back from 3-0 against German champions Bayern Munich.

From here, the final eight teams will meet in Portugal for a 12-day tournament that promises to be a unique footballing festival. Unlike previous seasons, there’ll be no second legs in the quarter finals and semi finals. And unlike previous seasons, there’ll be no fans at the stadium.

These are some of the major changes that have been put in place to pull off the European showpiece in the midst of a global pandemic, the Coronavirus. One thing that is guaranteed, however, is the UEFA Champions League theme music.

We’ve all been there when the music starts – and usually we chime in at the end with our best version of “The champions!!”

But have you ever wondered what the anthem actually means? We’ve done some research into the history of the anthem, and the lyrics so that you can sing along beyond the final 2 words – The champions!!

Zadok the Priest

The UEFA Champions League theme song is actually an adaptation of a coronation anthem titled Zadok the Priest, written by George Friedrich Handel in the 18th century. It is one of four coronation anthems in a set composed by Handel – music that is used to accompany the crowning of a British monarch.

This anthem was first used in 1727 at the crowning of King George the 2nd. The other three anthems in the set are Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice and My Heart Is Inditing and are used as appropriate, depending on certain criteria. Zadok the Priest is the most famous of the four, and was played when the present Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953 (according to the Royal Family’s programme for that day). The video of Her Majesty’s coronation is also available on Youtube.

The inspiration text for all anthems is found in the King James Bible. The text for Zadok the priest in particular, can be found in the biblical account of the anointing of King Solomon by Zadok the priest & Nathan the prophet (1 Kings 1:38-40). Other anthems use other passages of the Bible.

From Zadok to UEFA

But what does that have to do with the Champions League? Zadok the Priest was recast into the Champions League anthem in 1992 (when the old European cup was rebranded into the current Champions League) by British composer Tony Britten. It is an adaptation of the original anthem and was used as a basis for the UEFA anthem. Mr Britten rewrote it in the three official UEFA languages (English, French & German). In summary, it simply says: “These are the champions, the masters & very best featuring in the main event”.

So, don’t be surprised when Prince Charles becomes King and something that resembles the Champions League anthem is played. The full lyrics are below:

Ce sont les meilleures équipes [These are the best teams]

Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften [The very best teams]

The main event!

Die Meister [The Masters]

Die Besten [The Best]

Les Grandes Équipes [The Great Teams]

The Champions!

Une grande réunion [A large meeting]

Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung [A great sports event]

The main event!

Ils sont les meilleurs [They are the best]

Sie sind die Besten [They are the best]

These are the champions!

Die Meister [The Masters]

Die Besten [The Best]

Les Grandes Équipes [The Great Teams]

The Champions!

Die Meister [The Masters]

Die Besten [The Best]

Les Grandes Équipes [The Great Teams]

The Champions!

By Opta Jabu

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