Fiercely independent, defiantly different and hugely successful, Barcelona have been setting a course different to almost any other football club since their inception over 100 years ago. Run by their members, who number more than 150,000, the club has retained its links with the Catalonia region while expanding into a global phenomenon.
There can be few other clubs in world football who have faced such difficulties as Barca. With the advent of the Spanish Civil War in the Thirties the club became a target for the fascist forces of General Franco. Club president Josep Senol was murdered in 1936, their social club was bombed in 1938 and before a game against Real Madrid in 1943 they were threatened by Franco's head of security.
Better times were ahead and in the Fifties, inspired by Slovak-Hungarian forward Ladislao Kubala the club began to grow again. Such was the explosion in popularity that a new stadium was needed and in 1957 the famous Camp Nou Stadium was completed. A monument to football, the incredible ground holds 90,000 fans.
In 1973 the Camp Nou was graced by a player who was to become inextricably linked to the club's fortunes over the next 30 years, Johan Cruyff. The great Dutch winger became a legend in Catalonia and completely immersed himself in the culture, even giving his son a Catalan name, Jordi. After retiring from the game he returned to manage the club and has been an influential voice at the Camp Nou ever since.
Cruyff has been succeeded at Barca by a dazzling array of the world's most talented footballers. Diego Maradona, Romario, Hristo Stoichkov, Ronaldo and currently Lionel Messi have all worn the famous blue and red striped shirt. Every one of them completely committed to the entertaining and attacking football which has made the club such a force on the European stage.