Football Features

The coolest club crests in European football and their origin story

By Ben Green

Published: 11:54, 23 March 2020

There are few greater sights in football than a completely eye-catching, unique and thought-provoking club crest. 

Behind every side, from Barcelona to Barnet, there is an iconic badge that defines the club. Some emblems evoke feelings of nostalgia, while others offer hope for the future and further memories.

Just look at Leeds United’s famous ‘Rose & Ball’ badge, which featured the white rose of Yorkshire. Show that historic crest to any fan around Elland Road and it will immediately bring back memories of Howard Wilkinson’s 1991/92 title-winning season.

However, show them the infamous ‘Leeds Salute’ crest and they’ll wince at the sight of what could have been. A badge represents more than just eleven players donning the jersey on matchday, but rather, everyone associated with the club, from fans to the kit man. It, therefore, has to feel right.

So, when we stumble across a completely distinctive — sometimes eccentric — club badge, we can’t help but sit back, admire and nod in approval at the design.

There are some truly incredible club crests in football, from the quirky to the inspiring, but we’ve come up with 10 of the coolest ones Europe has to offer.

Sampdoria

Starting with one of the most illustrious club crests in European football, Sampdoria’s iconic badge pays homage to the Blucerchiati’s location alongside the Gulf of Genoa. The club originates from Italy’s largest port city, and the badge reflects this, with a side profile of a sailor pictured in front of the traditional colours.

The lupo di mare or “wolf of the sea” even has his own name: Baciccia (John the Baptist).

Benevento Calcio

Staying in Italy, we turn our attention to the second tier and the club currently managed by AC Milan legend Filippo Inzaghi. Thought a sailor was a pretty uncanny totem for a club? Well, think again, as Benevento Calcio’s crest comes complete with a witch riding a broomstick.

The reason behind the eerie logo is a reference to 13th-century Italian folklore, more specifically the witches of Benevento, with the club even nicknamed Gli Stregoni (The Sorcerers).

Roma

Finishing up in Italy, we move to the capital and the Eternal City, Rome. The club crest depicts the Capitoline Wolf and the mythical twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. According to legend, the twins were raised by a she-wolf, and in turn, the animal is now a sacred figure of the city and of course, Roma.

Ajax

There is a great quote from legendary Ajax icon Johan Cruyff that loosely reads: “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.” Indeed the same can be said of club crests, as is the case with Ajax’s.

The abstract portrait of Greek mythological hero Ajax is certainly not too elaborate, but that is the beauty of the logo. The portrait is, in fact, comprised of only 11 lines, with each one representing a player on the pitch.

Only a club like Ajax could produce something so simple on paper, and yet, so profound and complex when you peel back the layers.

FC Cologne

One of the most bizarre yet brilliant club badges in world football. FC Cologne’s crest not only has the city’s famous Cathedral emblazoned on the front, but it also depicts a goat towering above the majestic edifice. The origin actually dates back to 1950, two years after the club’s inception. 

A goat was donated to the club by a circus entrepreneur as a joke during the annual carnival season and, well, he has been an integral part of the club’s fabric ever since. FC Cologne are, in fact, nicknamed the Billy Goats and have paraded Hennes — named after iconic player and manager Hennes Weisweiler — at games for years at the RheinEnergieSTADION.

They are now up to Hennes IX.

Bohemians Praha 1905

From the Billy Goats to the Kangaroos, Bohemians’ current club crest pays tribute to a tour of Australia in 1927. The nation wanted a European football club to come over and strut their stuff, but after Czechoslovakian powerhouse’s Slavia Prague and Viktoria Zizkov rejected their overtures, they settled on AFK Vrsovice.  

The Prague-based club were unsure Australian natives would recognise where the team was from based on their name, and so, switched from AFK Vrsovice to Bohemians, the English translation of the region where they were from in Central Europe. 

Paris FC

Unlike the French club‘s more successful brother, Paris FC’s logo illustrates the Eiffel Tower in its entirety. There is not an inherently interesting backstory to the club crest, but the sleek design and subtle navy hue put PSG’s current badge to shame.

Stade Malherbe Caen

The Viking presence in Normandy stretches back centuries and Caen’s crest, unveiled in 2016, honours that connection. The silhouette of a horned helmet is a fitting tribute to the city’s Viking roots.

Buxton FC

The Derbyshire club currently ply their trade far down the English pyramid, but this modern badge wouldn’t look out of place with some of the most iconic club crests in world football. Fittingly, the logo depicts a deer high up on a mountain summit, presumably to represent the fact the club’s ground, the Silverlands, is the highest stadium in England at 1,000 feet above sea level.

MSV Duisburg

Sticking with the animal theme, we return to the truly bizarre as German club MSV Duisburg are represented by a zebra. The connection was made to recognise the club’s hooped kit design, with the blue and white rings resembling the iconic stripes of a zebra.

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