Wembley Stadium is a football stadium in Wembley, London. With 90,000 seats the stadium has the second largest capacity in Europe. By area it is the largest roof-covered football stadium in the world and stands opposite Wembley Arena.
The previous Wembley Stadium (originally known as the Empire Stadium) was one of the world’s most famous football stadiums, being England’s national stadium for football, and because of the geographical origins of the game was often referred to as ‘The Home of Football’. It hosted the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) final a record five times, and is one of seventeen stadia to have held a FIFA World Cup final.
In 2003, the original structure was demolished and construction began on the new stadium, originally intended to open in 2006. This was later delayed until early 2007. The final completion date of the stadium came on 9 March 2007, when the keys to the stadium were handed over to The Football Association.
The first match staged at the new stadium was an under-21 international between England and Italy on March 24, 2007. The match finished 3-3. The official attendance was 55,700 (although all of the 60,000 tickets that were made available were sold in advance). This now stands as the record for the largest under-21 attendance ever.
The first person to score at the new Wembley Stadium was Mark Bright, during a charity match on the Community Day on March 17. The first footballer to score in a FIFA sanctioned match was Italian striker Giampaolo Pazzini after 28 seconds of the first game between England U21 and Italy U21. Pazzini went on to score twice more in the second half of the match making him the first person to score a hat-trick at Wembley Stadium since Paul Scholes for England in 1999. This gives Pazzini two other records, the fastest goal scored at Wembley (old or new stadium) and the first person to score a hat-trick at the new Wembley. The first English player to score in a full-scale match was David Bentley with a free kick in the same game. Kidderminster Harriers striker James Constable was the first player to score a goal in a final at the new Wembley in the FA Trophy Final against Stevenage Borough on May 12, 2007. Stevenage were the first team to win a final at the new Wembley beating Kidderminster 3-2 in the FA Trophy Final. Chelsea’s Didier Drogba scored the first FA Cup goal at Wembley on 19 May 2007, against Premiership rivals Manchester United.