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The big calls that shaped Europe’s elite: How Barcelona made it to the top

12:00 GMT 30/11/2021
Barcelona Champions League trophy
With Socios.com providing an app for fans to have their say, GOAL looks back at five major decisions that formed one of Europe’s elite

Every fan has the right to make their voice heard, wherever they are in the world.

And Socios.com offers you the chance to do exactly that. A first-of-its-kind mobile app for football fans, Socios.com gets you closer to the team you love by allowing you – the superfan – to vote on club-specific decisions through Fan Tokens.

Fan Tokens are digital assets that give you the power to influence the decisions of your favourite teams.

The $BAR Fan Token will give you the power to help the Culers make the right decisions, access VIP experiences, earn official products, and more.

Barca asked their fan token holders to decide on a design for a mural that was placed inside the first team's changing rooms.

Fans also got the opportunity to select the matchday playlist ahead of games at the stadium, to choose the message that would appear on the captain's armband, and 22 lucky $BAR token holders were even chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play a match at the Camp Nou.

Below, we look back on the five major decisions the Blaugrana made that helped transform them into the superpower they are today.

Influence your team, access VIP rewards, exclusive promotions and join a global community of superfans at Socios.com

  • Camp Nou general

    #1 Taking out that newspaper advert

    Throughout their history, Barcelona have been famed for their international outlook and that cosmopolitan approach indeed goes back to the very founding of the club in 1899.

    In October of that year, Swiss national Hans Gamper put out a notice in a local newspaper informing of his intention to start a football team. That call was answered by expatriate English, German and Spanish players, who made up the first line-up for the newly baptised Football Club Barcelona.

    The club quickly established themselves in both regional and national competition, winning six Copa del Rey titles and 11 Catalan Championships under Gamper's 25 years as president. The Swiss, meanwhile, was adopted by the Catalans as one of their own, and the Joan Gamper trophy named in homage to the club's founding father is still played at Camp Nou as a curtain-raiser to each season.

  • Johan Cruyff Barcelona

    #2 Embracing Cruyffism

    A remarkable period of success in the 1950s was followed by a lean spell for Barca, but yet another foreign star would bring glory days to Camp Nou. Johan Cruyff was already a three-time European Cup winner and Ballon d'Or recipient when he left Ajax in a then-world record transfer and, like Gamper and Kubala before him, he quickly set about enrapturing the Catalan faithful, even naming his son Jordi after the region's patron saint.

    On the pitch Cruyff ensured the Blaugrana's eternal gratitude by ending a 16-year Liga drought in 1974, and he would go on to spend five memorable seasons at Camp Nou. While Cruyff left Camp Nou in 1979, 10 years later he would be back, this time on the bench. If anything, his time as a coach was even more impressive than his sparkling playing days.

    The Dutchman oversaw the construction of Barca's 'Dream Team', built around both foreign talents such as Romario, Hristo Stoichkov and Ronald Koeman, and local players, most notably midfield star Josep 'Pep' Guardiola. In 1991-92 that side finally ended Barca's long wait for a European Cup, downing Sampdoria in the final; while they also managed four consecutive Liga crowns, a feat the club had never previously achieved.

  • Pep Guardiola Barcerlona

    #3 Appointing Pep Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola was a rookie coach with just one season on the bench with Barcelona's B team in 2008 when Barca chose him to be their new coach over the other front-runner, Jose Mourinho. Key to their decision and Pep’s success would be whether or not their former captain could help a 21-year-old Lionel Messi reach his potential. Between them - and with the priceless help of Xavi and Andres Iniesta - Pep and Messi would form the inspiration behind one of the greatest club teams of all time.

    In four years at Camp Nou, Pep led Barcelona to two Champions League titles and three straight Liga wins, while his Argentine protege took the football world by storm with his incredible dribbling and unerring eye for goal. Perhaps the crowning moment of Guardiola's memorable reign came in the 2010-11 season: Barca lost just two games in the league to finish four points clear of Madrid while Manchester United were dispatched 3-1 in the Champions League final, going down to perhaps the most complete performance ever witnessed in the competition's long and venerable history.

  • Barcelona Champions League trophy

    #4 Believing in La Masia

    One of the most significant decisions taken in Barcelona history took place far from the bright lights of Camp Nou.

    In 1979, an old farmhouse in the shadow of the stadium was converted into a dormitory for Barca's budding stars. Its name, La Masia, became synonymous with the Catalans' commitment to developing young talent, with the likes of Guardiola, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi all passing through its doors on their way to football fame and fortune.

    In 2010, La Masia cemented its legendary status in the game when that year’s three Ballon d’Or finalists were all graduates of a single youth academy for the first and only time in football history. Today, Ansu Fati and Gavi are leading the way for the next generation, continuing a trend which has enriched both Barcelona and the sport as a whole.

  • Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez Barcelona

    #5 Forming 'MSN'

    Barcelona may have struggled to match Guardiola's golden tenure in the years following his exit, but there have been plenty of memorable moments at Camp Nou. Indeed, Luis Enrique delivered another treble of La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

    Key to the club's success was the decision to assemble a forward line of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, the ‘MSN’. A brilliant partnership both on and off the field, the South American trio provided the firepower to beat all-comers and netted 122 goals during that scintillating 2014-15 season alone, 58 of which came from the incomparable Argentine.

    Neymar, Suarez and now Messi have moved on from Camp Nou, but another legend in the shape of Xavi is back to oversee the rebuilding efforts following a series of tough campaigns. Whatever their troubles, Barca remain 'more than a club', as their motto runs, a sporting powerhouse recognised instantly across the globe which commands the respect and admiration of millions of fans.

    Barcelona are part of Socios.com, the creators of Fan Tokens, along with 70+ other elite teams including Juventus, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, City, Arsenal, Everton, Leeds and Aston Villa, with many more to come.