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Inside Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, their new home that lay forgotten for years and where England flop scored only goal

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THE Nou Camp is such a huge part of Barcelona’s history.

The likes of Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi have all proudly paraded the turf with their generational talent.


Barcelona are moving to the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys with the Nou Camp being renovatedCredit: Getty


The stadium was the focal point for Barcelona’s failed 1936 Olympics bidCredit: Getty


The iconic Olympic clock did get to the see the light of day at the 1992 GamesCredit: Alamy


The stadium has regularly been used for football although Tottenham used it merely as a training base in 2017Credit: Getty – Contributor

But, Barca have been booted out of their near-100,000-seater home after decades of decay took its toll on the great, but ageing, stadium.

So where will Barcelona go?

Well, not far… just two-and-a-half miles up the road to the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Originally called the Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic, it was built for the 1929 International Expo – opening that year – with a view to Barcelona’s 1936 Olympics bid.

With the a capacity of 55,000 seats, Spain were confident they would earn the right to host the Games with their stunning showstopper of a stadium.

However, Barcelona lost out to Berlin.

Nevertheless, the stadium was quickly put to use, hosting Spain’s first-ever rugby match – in which they beat Italy 9-0.

It also played host to the Catalan national team’s 4-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and even a boxing match between Paolino Uzcudun and Max Schmeling.


The ground welcomed a smattering of professional football matches, including three Copa del Rey finals in its early days but, in truth, went largely unused.

The stadium was due to hold a protest against the 1936 Olympics in Berlin – but was curtailed due to the Spanish Civil War.

For a brief period in the 1940s, the Olympic stadium was the go-to venue in Spain, featuring five international matches, a glut of cup finals and even some Barcelona-Espanyol derby games.

But in the late ’40s, things went a little quiet.

The Olympic arena managed to host the 1955 Mediterranean Games and one Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and local rivals Espanyol in 1957.

By the 1970s, the stadium was in disrepair, with the stands in tatters.

It got a brief respite from its lonely existence thanks to Formula One.

The Spanish Grand Prix was hosted by the Montjuic street circuit in Barcelona four times, in 1969, 1971, 1973 and 1975.

Those years, the stadium played the role of makeshift paddock and car park for the F1 teams… how the mighty had fallen.

In the 80s, the stadium was ripped almost completely apart and renovated for Barcelona’s 1992 Olympics bid.

This time, the city was successful and the stadium got an almighty lease of life, including brand new grandstands – boosting the capacity to around 70,000.

The stadium was the Games’ jewel in the crown, hosting the opening ceremony, all of the athletics and the closing ceremony for the iconic Games after a “trial run” at the 1989 Athletics World Cup.


An archer lights the flame at the opening ceremony of the 1992 OlympicsCredit: Allsport – Getty


The iconic ground is set to welcome back competitive football despite fears for the flat atmosphereCredit: Getty


The stadium has hosted rock royalty including the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pictured) and the Rolling StonesCredit: Getty

Despite its success, the Olympic stadium fell back into a rut and struggled to find events to host, save for a handful of concerts, including the Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Barcelona Dragons American football team moved in until 2002 and hosted two NFL pre-season matches in 1993 and 1994.

Just five years later and Espanyol were moving in to what would be a temporary home while their new stadium was being built.

The Catalan club spent 12 years at the ground – ironically enjoying one of their best eras despite the strained atmosphere.

Despite its stunning architecture, the stadium simply wasn’t built for football.

Even though they won the 2000 and 2006 Copa del Rey, as well as reaching the 2007 Uefa Cup final, Espanyol fans never fell in love with the Montjuic stadium during their dozen year stay, which eventually ended in 2009.

Left empty again, officials looked to give the arena a new lease of life.

It hosted the European Athletics Championships in 2010 and was even given a no-expenses-spared new blue running track for the occasion, but has since been left like a relic from the past.

Despite its size and history, the stadium has hosted just 11 international matches.

Of those 11, just five have been this century… of those five, just three have been Spain, with Andorra playing another two.

Both of Andorra’s games at the stadium came against England – in their 2007 qualification match for Euro 2008 and for their World Cup 2010 qualifier in 2008.

Steven Gerrard scored twice and David Nugent tapped in his only ever Three Lions goal on his sole match for his country – a 3-0 win.

Joe Cole grabbed a double in a 2-0 win a year later.

Spain have only ever played friendlies at the ground, most-recently a 2-1 win over Peru in 2004.

So now, Barcelona will call it their home until 2025 in what should be a much-needed lease of life for the stadium.

But will it be a permanent boost this time or just another false dawn for the classic arena?

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