David Beckham lingered longest on the Old Trafford pitch after Manchester United's aggregate defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. He will have no doubt been reflecting on his role in a most remarkable European Cup tie. But he may also have been reaching the inevitable conclusion that his lifelong love affair with Manchester United is coming to a close.
Barcelona’s Camp Nou is as awesome as ever, its tiers rising endlessly, obliterating a clear, winter's sky. The place exudes prosperity and arrogance, seemingly challenging the world to match its majesty. But linger here, mingle with the customers, listen to the players and watch the football. Then the senses communicate an entirely different story of this enormous club.
It has been said by the critics that one man cannot make a team, yet when Argentina-born Alfredo Di Stéfano flew the Atlantic to join Real Madrid in 1953, it marked the beginning of an era in which the blond centre-forward led the club to real greatness. Champions eight times in eleven seasons, Real became the most famed and most feared club side of all time, and at the height of their power between 1956 and 1960, set up what will probably remain an all-time record by taking the European Cup five times in a row.