WEMBLEY STADIUM CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

Saturday 24 March 2012 marked the fifth anniversary of the first official football match played at the new Wembley.

So we decided to take a look at the top memories of the last five years:

England and Italy’s Under-21s had the honour of contesting the match and served up a six-goal extravaganza to delight a crowd of 55,700, easily the record for an international fixture at that level. Italy’s Giampaolo Pazzini made history on two counts, scoring the first goal at the new Stadium after just 29 seconds and going on to claim the first hat-trick. David Bentley became the first Englishman to score there with a free-kick on the half-hour as he contributed to an entertaining 3-3 draw on a chilly afternoon.

Wembley Stadium

Ronnie Henry, the Stevenage Borough skipper, made new Wembley history as he became the first player to negotiate the 107 steps up to the Royal Box to receive a trophy, in his case The FA Trophy, after Stevenage had edged Kidderminster Harriers 3-2 in a thrilling Final on 12 May. The attendance of 53,262 beat the previous Trophy record by more than 50%. A week later the 126th FA Cup Final was the first to take place at the new Stadium and it could hardly have been a more glittering occasion.

A capacity crowd inside Wembley, 12.9m viewers on UK television plus about 450m worldwide, saw a parade of Wembley winners from the last 50 years before the kick-off. Sarah Brightman and Lesley Garrett sang Henry Lyte’s traditional hymn Abide With Me and the famous Red Arrows flew past before the Chelsea and Manchester United teams were presented to Prince William, President of The FA. The Blues won 1-0 with a Didier Drogba goal four minutes from the end of extra time.

After a seven-year break England returned to Wembley on 1 June and the opposition was mouth-watering. The Brazil of Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho were guaranteed to stretch Steve McClaren’s England. In fact, they were only seconds away from achieving their first victory against the five-time World Cup winners since a Gary Lineker goal beat them at the old Wembley in 1990. Skipper John Terry became the first England player to score at the new Stadium, powering home a far-post header from David Beckham’s free-kick on 68 minutes.

New Wembley, still the iconic venue, has now hosted 28 England full internationals and five FA Cup Finals. The biggest crowd so far has been the 89,874 who watched the 2008 Final between Cardiff City and Portsmouth.

Posted on 26/03/2012