Wembley Big

Famous Stadium Series: Wembley Stadium

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight famous, iconic stadiums around the world that Atlanta United players or staff have played in before. Come along on our journey around the globe and share your pictures, videos and stories from some of the famous soccer stadiums in world football. 

History of Wembley Stadium

One of the most historic and iconic football stadiums in the world is Wembley Stadium in London, England. It is the home of the English Football Association and has hosted the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, the 1996 UEFA European Championship Final, seven UEFA Champions League Finals and numerous other sports and events.  

First completed in 1923, Wembley Stadium has hosted the FA Cup Final, the oldest association football competition in the world, annually since it opened. The great Brazilian soccer icon Pele once called the venue "Wembley is the cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football."

The cathedral underwent construction in the early 2000s and re-opened in 2007 with a seating capacity of 90,000. During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Wembley served as the site for the Men’s & Women’s Soccer Gold Medal matches. The historic venue also is the home to the EFL Playoff Finals, including what many feel is the “Most Lucrative Match in the World” aka the EFL Championship Play-off Final to determine who will play in the Premier League the following season.  

 

Atlanta United Players/Staff with connections to Wembley Stadium

Several Atlanta United players and staff members have experienced playing at Wembley Stadium. One of them, academy coach Jack Collison, played for both club and country at Wembley Stadium. One of those experiences came in the 2012 EFL Championship Play-off Final with West Ham United, which Collison and his team won to earn promotion to the Premier League.

 

“There was so much pressure on us that season to get promoted and for it all to come down to one match made it even worse” said Collison when recalling the Play-off Final. “The sheer relief on the final whistle was incredible. It probably took a few days to settle in properly, but what a way to do it. At Wembley in front of 90,000, most of them West Ham fans, it was a special day.”

Collison featured for Wales in a match against England, while also playing in an FA Cup Semifinal for Wigan against Arsenal.

One current Atlanta United player has fairly recent experience playing at the historic Wembley Stadium. Anton Walkes was on the winning side when his Portsmouth team won the EFL Trophy Cup during the 2018/19 season. Playing in front of 85,021 fans at Wembley Stadium, made the experience even sweeter as he recalls. 

"I used to dream of playing at Wembley while growing up as a kid. I finally got to experience walking onto the home of English football and could only feel excited how a little child would be." Walkes added "Playing there is unreal but to actually go there and walk away with a trophy is something even more special. Lifting a trophy in Wembley is only something I only ever got to see on television and to do it with my family present will forever be something I’m proud of."

 


Other members of Atlanta United that have played at Wembley Stadium include Brad Guzan and Carlos Bocanegra, who both played for the U.S. Men's National Team against England in friendlies at Wembley. 

Have you ever been to Wembley Stadium 17s? Show us your pictures from inside or outside this historic venue.

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