A look back at 20 years of adidas Champions League Balls
For the 2021 Champions League Knockout Stages and Final adidas have rolled a new match ball into the mix. A match ball that is drenched it history; 20 years of it to be precise. To celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the “starball” design the Finale Istanbul 21 ball features designs from every adidas Champions League ball since 2001.
The iconic “starball” design has become synonymous with elite level football – as much as the famous Champions League anthem – and as the brand celebrate two decades of official match balls, we’re taking a look back at every design to grace the prestigious final. Your job? To pick a favourite. Good luck with that.
Shop The Collection
Available now with next day delivery
adidas won the contract to take over from Nike and became the official match day ball supplier for the Champions League in 2001. The final in Milan was contested between Valencia and Bayern Munich. The ball was called the 'Grey Star Finale' featuring a white background with light grey stars on the various panels on the ball.
Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia
GLASGOW 2002 / MANCHESTER 2003
This is the only ball design that lasted 2 season. For the final at Hampden Park in 2002 adidas delivered the 'Black Star Finale' ball. Again, the main colour of the ball was white, however this time we saw black stars replace the grey stars used in 2001. The game was played between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen with the result decided by a Zidane wonder goal. The design of the ball remained untouched in 2003 when AC Milan beat Juventus on penalties after a goalless draw at Old Trafford.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Valencia (Bayern win on penalties)
Real Madrid 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
For 2004 we had the 'adidas Finale Aufschalke' ball that introduced blue stars. This final was contested at the home of Schalke between Jose Mourinho's Porto and AS Monaco. Porto ran out comfortable winners with a 3-0 victory. A 'Special One' was born...
Porto 3-0 Monaco
Ask any Liverpool fan what happened here then cancel any plans you had for the rest of the day. As for the ball, this is where adidas started to introduce a bit more bespoke style as alongside a small subtle logo of Istanbul, both teams names which were ingrained on the ball giving it that unique touch.
AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win on penalties)
Featuring the same construction and material as the ball which would also be used later that year in the World Cup. The final in Paris saw Barcelona take on the first London based team to reach a Champions League final, Arsenal. The main characteristics on the ball saw white as the main setting with a visual display of blue and red stars covering each panel.
Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal
AC Milan took on Liverpool in what was a repeat of the 2005 Champions League Final. This time AC Milan won the game 2-1 and the ball for the final adopted a silver complexion as the main colour, instead of the usual white, with blue stars covering the panels to complete the finishing touches.
AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool
An all English tie in Moscow between Manchester United and Chelsea. The ball used for the final incorporated colours which represented key features of Moscow’s culture, with a shade of gold as the main body of the ball and the addition of red and gold stars. The red paid reference to the Red Square, in Moscow whilst the gold was for the famous Kremlin Cathedral. This was the start of adidas making the final ball bespoke to the host city.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United (Man United win on penalties)
Manchester United had made it to another final however this time they faced an in-form Barcelona. The adidas Finale ball took huge reference from Rome. The ball featured a silver colour as the main backdrop, whilst burgundy mosaic prints made up each star representing key sporting Roman values: speed, teamwork, justice and power.
Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United
The 10th anniversary of adidas designing the Champions League ball saw a return to an original white setting which was a representation of Real Madrid’s kit, with the final being played at the Bernabéu. Each star had a red border with gold decoration giving a representation of the Spanish flag, and a date from the previous ten finals.
Inter Milan 2-0 Bayern Munich
In 2011 we were back at the home of football, Wembley, where Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1. The finale ball used in this game symbolised the St George's Cross using a white base cover with all the stars painted in red bar one, which was orange, acting as the focal point of the St George's Cross.
Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United
The Allianz Arena was the venue with Bayern Munich welcoming Chelsea into their own backyard. The design used for this Finale Munich ball adopted a colourful design with the ball continuing to feature an initial white layer, however each star was garnished with a mixture of lime, cyan and indigo. An iconic design for Chelsea fans.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (Chelsea win on penalties)
2013 saw Wembley host a European final for the seventh time, 50 years on from hosting its first European final back in 1963. Two blue stars on the ball had 1963 and 2013 printed in gold to mark this achievement.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Lisbon hosted the 14th edition of the adidas Finale ball which took strong reference from the city's rich history of seafaring culture. Plain white was the main background colour for the ball again, with the stars featuring blue colours to symbolise the sea and sky. Orange details wrapped things up, taking inspiration from the terracotta roof tiles of Lisbon homes.
Atletico Madrid 1-4 Real Madrid (AET)
The fifteenth edition in the ‘Finale’ series took on a cultural and historic theme surrounding the host city of the final, Berlin. The Finale 15 was decorated in a spectacle of colour using graphics inspired by some of Berlin’s most recognised symbols and landmarks, including the Brandenburg Gate on the central star panel.
Barcelona 3-1 Juventus
The 2016 edition saw a new design retain the classic stars formation, but introduced iconic graphics of the Teatro alla Scalais and the legendary stairs of San Siro – the host stadium in which Real Madrid were crowned European Champions.
Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (Real Madrid win on penalties)
The dragon was unleashed as Wales welcomed Real Madrid and Juventus to Cardiff. Obvious national inspiration scattered across the ball that hit the back of the net five times as Real Madrid retained the prestigious trophy with a 4-1 victory.
Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid
The 18th design on the adidas Finale match ball saw a Ukrainian takeover on the trademark stars. Another design inspired by the final's host city, but it was Gareth Bale inspiring Real Madrid to a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev.
Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
The 2019 final in Madrid featured the most colourful Finale ball design to date ,landing with some fiery hues reminiscent of the host country’s colours. Half of North London and Liverpool headed south to Atletico Madrid's new stadium to see Liverpool beat Spurs 2-0 to lift the trophy for a sixth time.
Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham
ISTANBUL (LISBON) 2020
Everything was set up for an Istanbul Final, of which this ball was designed for, and then COVID-19 reared its ugly head and the 2020 Final was diverted to Lisbon for a mini 'bubble' tournament to round off a bizarre year of football.
Bayern Munich 1-0 PSG