The original Wembley Stadium officially went by the name of Empire Stadium but fans of the iconic sporting venue almost never referred to the ground by this name.
Stadium Guide by Football Tripper
England’s Wembley Stadium first opened in 1923 under the grandiose yet horribly colonial sounding title of “British Empire Exhibition Stadium”. Constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine and costing £750,000, the stadium was ready to be demolished after the end of the exhibition but it managed to survive and become a fully fledged football stadium at the suggestion of Sir James Stevenson who was the Chairman of the organising committee for the Empire Exhibition.
Following a period immediately after construction when Wembley’s ownership changed hands, Wembley really came into its own as the original piece of “Hallowed Turf” after World War 2 when the popularity of Football exploded. With the F.A Cup final held each season at the iconic venue, The Twin Towers became synonymous with English football and part of history as the F.A Cup was then regarded as one of the most prestigious tournaments back in the 20th Century.
Outside of Britain, Wembley Stadium gained a famous reputation by hosting the 1966 World Cup with legendary Brazilian footballer Pele calling it “The cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football”. For English fans, the only thing better than hosting the World Cup would be winning it, and the three lions managed to do this in their own backyard, by defeating West Germany 4-2 in extra time in an event which we haven’t managed to shut up about ever since.
30 years later England hosted Euro 1996, and the Germans got their revenge when they defeated England in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw. Once again Wembley Stadium hosted the final as well as all of England’s home matches, and further weaved it’s way into Britain’s footballing history. The final game at Wembley was held on the 7th October once again against rivals Germany, with Dietmar Hamann scoring the winner in a narrow 1 nil defeat.
New Wembley Stadium opened 7 years later in 2007 with a slightly larger capacity of 90,000 seats.