International Football Hall of Champions / Win

The Gala in Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain, (February 1, 1999)

The facade of the glittering Hotel Rey Juan Carlos sparkles with the images of the Hall of Champions and adidas World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane as the celebrity guests return from the gala show for the post-show party and dinner.

Making of the Gala

After the great success of the first-ever induction ceremony for the International Football Hall of Champions in early 1998 at Disneyland Paris, the 1999 ceremony continued the tradition of honoring its inductees during the FIFA World Player Gala. For the second year in a row, the Hall of Champions shared the spotlight during international football’s most glamorous night of the year, as the biggest celebrities gathered together to recognize the best achievements and personalities in world football.

The 1999 version moved to southern Europe and the beautiful port city of Barcelona as part of the celebration of FC Barcelona’s centennial. After the huge success of the 1992 summer Olympics, this Catalan city has experienced a renaissance and become Spain’s leading cultural and economic city. The glittering Teatro Nacional de Catalunya was built during this revival and was selected as the location for this year’s gala evening. With all guests staying at the lavish Hotel Rey Juan Carlos - one of Barcelona’s finest hotels - the entire event was indeed a five-star spectacular.


The stars began to arrive in Barcelona on Sunday, January 31. Legendary Italian goalkeeper and current Italy manager Dino Zoff and his wife were the first Hall of Champions guests to arrive. They immediately set out for a sight-seeing venture of the gothic area of the city. The late Bobby Moore was represented by his widow, Mrs. Stephanie Moore, and accompanied by long-time friend Jan Keetch. Mr. and Mrs. Just Fontaine decided to drive as they did not have far to journey from their home in the south-west of France. This was not the case for Cecilia Maria Cordosa and her husband Edson. The daughter of the late Brazilian star Garrincha traveled all the way from her home in Brazil to represent her father at this special occasion.

Arriving from England were Mr. Jack Taylor and his wife, as he was there to accept his award as a top flight referee, most notably for his role as the man in the middle for the memorable 1974 World Cup Final in Munich as Beckenbauer’s Germany outlasted Cruyff’s Holland. Amazingly, all three men were in attendance in Barcelona as representatives of the Hall of Champions. Also arriving from England were inaugural inductee Sir Bobby Charlton and Mr. Ron Yeats, who was accepting the manager’s award on behalf of his late Liverpool manager of the 70’s, Bill Shankly.

Sir Bobby was intent on attending the Barcelona-Racing Santandar match at the nearby Nou Camp stadium, and was promptly whisked away to arrive just in time for the opening whistle. Joining him at the match - and as guests of the president of FC Barcelona - were Jack Taylor, Just Fontaine, Stephanie Moore and Jan Keetch, along with representatives of the Hall of Champions and FIFA. Also joining this unique crowd were the winners of the Hall of Champions Free Trip Contest, Ian and Yvonne Addison, who still could not believe they had actually won! And there they were sitting in the Nou Camp’s Presidential Suite taking in the match with football legends.

Upon returning from the match with the satisfaction of Barcelona victory , the other arrivals were met as a buffet dinner was served for all the guests. Long-time football journalist and Frenchman Jacques Ferran arrived to accept the award in the media category. Representing the late Fernand Sastre - who passed away only days before the World Cup in France was to start - the World Cup he helped orchestrate as the co-president of the organizing committee - was his widow Marcelle Sastre, current FFF President Claude Simonet, and inaugural inductee and his partner at the CFO, Michel Platini. Mr. Sastre was selected as the winner in the For the Good of the Game category. Ajax Amsterdam chairman Michael van Praag was also on hand to represent his club team which was to be honored for its legendary achievements.

The Excitement Begins

The day of the gala began fast and never let up. With the arrival of the Franz Beckenbauer, who was present to accept awards on behalf of both Germany as a national team and former teammate Gerd Muller as a player (who was unable to attend), the media attention grew quickly. The frenzy really peaked with the arrival of Johan Cruyff, who is a living legend in Barcelona. From his days as both a player and a manager, Mr. Cruyff has come to be a beloved figure in this Catalan city with the successes he brought to this world giant. The feeling is mutual as he calls Barcelona his home and principal residence. With all of the Hall of Champions guests in a special VIP lounge, it created a very special atmosphere where the stars conversed with each other in a private setting. The cavernous lobby of the hotel heated up with the arrival of the FIFA contingent which included President Sepp Blatter, General Secretary Michel Zen-Rufinen, and former President Joao Havelange - who was present to be inducted into the Hall of Champions for his achievements as a pioneer in the sport of football.

Just as modern superstars Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, and Davor Suker were escorted to the VIP lounge, it was time to give the media what they were waiting for and begin the Hall of Champions press conference. With over 100 journalists and a bank of 15 camera crews, FIFA Communications Director Keith Cooper moderated the 30-minute press conference. Representing the Hall of Champions was an astonishing panel which included Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Fontaine, Charlton, Zoff and Hall of Champions President Lex Jolley. It was a truly unique collection of legendary stars.

Legendary footballers and Hall of Champions inductees Dino Zoff and Sir Bobby Charlton listen in during the star-studded press conference held in the lavish Hotel Rey Juan Carlos hours before the start of the 1999 Induction Ceremony and FIFA World Player Gala in Barcelona.

Mr. Jolley began the conference by showing the 90-second video special which would be aired later that night during the gala show. He then spoke of the future plans of the Hall and introduced its representatives seated with him. Each star spoke of the significance of their recognition, and gave the highlights of their careers. Sir Bobby Charlton gave a fitting recognition to those who were not able to attend, Bobby Moore, Bill Shankly and Garrincha, each of whom he had contact with as a player.

Three press conferences were conducted in all, the second conducted by leading Spanish magazine Don Balon - which also served as host of the gala weekend - and whom were recognizing several Spain-specific achievements and awards. The last press conference included the three players in the running for the FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldo, Zidane and Suker.

At the conclusion of the press conferences, all the guests and invited media boarded chartered buses and were whisked away to the National Theatre as to allow time before the beginning of the live broadcast of the gala.

The Gala

The Teatro Nacional de Catalunya sparkled in the Barcelona night. The massive marble atrium served as entrance to the theatre. All guests were escorted to the magnificent terrace level above the auditorium for a pre-gala cocktail party. Glasses of cava - Spanish champagne - and tapas were served. But the real treat was the incredible celebrity presence. Along with all of the Hall of Champions guests and the three World Player nominees, there were other award winners such as Michael Laudrup, Lilian Thuram, and France Manager Aime Jacquet. Non-award winners included former World Player George Weah, Hristo Stoichkov and Spanish TV celebrity Ana Obregon - who attended as guest of her boyfriend Suker. As the time drew closer to the start of the show, the crowd made their way downstairs and into the auditorium.

The gala broadcast was set to be shown live across Europe and several other countries worldwide. Local Barcelona TV station, TV Catalonia, owned the rights to produce the show and built an elaborate stage. A beautiful photo image of the Nou Camp stadium served as the back drop to the stage, which was anchored by two large video screens to show the audience the many creative video clips throughout the night. Gala hosts Anna Walker from England, and local celebrity Pere Escobar were introduced and the show was under way.

The first part of the broadcast included images of the city of Barcelona, and video clips of football both past and present. Next came the demonstration of a Catalan human tower - a 7-human layered tower where the performers are held in place by a swarm of people at its base, and then stand on each others’ shoulders as they build this improbable tower - which was performed in the atrium of the theatre just prior to the start of the gala!

The Hall of Champions began as the first segment of the awards program. Johan Cruyff was announced to the stage and served as presenter of the solid sterling silver award plates that were handed to each of the inductees. As an inaugural member of the Hall of Champions and such a glorified figure in Barcelona, it was a special atmosphere as the dignified Dutchman welcomed each new inductee into the Hall.

The first award was Jack Taylor’s in the referee category. Before being called to the stage, a short video prepared by TV Catalonia was played and showed Mr. Taylor during that historic ’74 World Cup Final. In the clip, he is shown whistling the penalty for Cruyff in the first minute with Beckenbauer vehemently protesting. It continues to show him arguing with Cruyff later in the match and then finally issuing him a yellow card as the Dutch great waves in disgust. It was then a fitting moment as Mr. Taylor took the stage and greeted Cruyff with yet another yellow card pulled from his pocket! Everyone in the theatre enjoyed the humorous moment.

Other highlights of the evening included Havelange’s show of support for newly-elected FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, Mr. van Praag’s description of the secrets to Ajax’s training successes and finally the reunion of Beckenbauer and Cruyff on stage. They were interviewed together by Ms. Walker as the two footballing legends and close friends, who competed against each other at the highest level, exchanged a friendly ribbing and amicable laugh. Beckenbauer was eager to point out that he was “especially proud to be accepting a trophy from Johan.”

At this point, Beckenbauer took over for Cruyff as presenter as the 5 players were called to the stage. Each player was previewed in a elegant video montage before being recognized. An added touch came as Sir Geoff Hurst escorted Stephanie Moore to the stage on behalf of the late Bobby Moore. Mr. Hurst was of course good friends and a teammate of Mr. Moore’s on the historic World Cup champion side of England in 1966. All in all, the Hall of Champions opened its doors to 12 legends and significant contributors who wrote the history of world football. With such a star-studded event, it was indeed an appropriate recognition for each and every one.

The Post-Gala Party

The gala continued with the awards presented by host and Spanish magazine Don Balon, which happened to be celebrating its 25th anniversary as well as the 100-year birthday of local club FC Barcelona. Awards were presented to goalkeeper Luis Arkonada as best Spanish player of the last 25 years, Michael Laudrup of Denmark as best foreign player of the past quarter century, and Real Madrid as the best club team in Spain. In between each block of awards, musical entertainment filled the auditorium with its sight and sounds. Musical guests included 70’s-style Fundacion Tony Manero, pop group Blue For You, and Catalan rumba group Ai, Ai, Ai.

It was then FIFA’s turn to present their awards. Included in their awards were all the recognition from World Cup ’98, Fair Play, and Coca-Cola team rankings awards. The evening culminated as Zidane was announced as the World Player of the Year for 1998.

The show was concluded as photographers buzzed around the newly-announced winner as their shots were to grace newspapers around the world the following morning. However, the evening was far from finished. All the guests headed back to the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos for the post-gala party and dinner. Upon arrival back at the hotel, the logos of both the Hall of Champions and Adidas’ Zidane were beamed against the giant facade of the hotel, and everyone entered the luxurious gardens of the hotel for a secluded late-night, Spanish-style dinner. Don Balon served as host of the elegant party and the crowd was treated to a few more recognitions and a brief speech by Sepp Blatter. The party carried on into the early morning as it was difficult to end an evening adorned with so many luminaries.

The amazing day finally came to an end with everyone convinced it was indeed a special day for football. The International Football Hall of Champions further solidified its place as the elite enshrining institution to celebrate and honor the sport and its contributors, as it looks forward to its third induction ceremony during next year’s pre-Euro 2000 World Player Gala.

The Hall of Champions wishes to thank FIFA, Don Balon, TV Catalonia, the Teatro Nacional de Catalunya, and the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos for their participation in staging this very successful event.

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