The UEFA Champions League Trophy endured some tough pre-final training in London's Hyde Park as it was lifted a world record 417 times in the space of an hour.
A throng of eager fans took their turn to hold the trophy with the big ears aloft at the UEFA Champions Festival, with Patricia Martín Sánchez having the honour of completing the 417th lift moments before the 14.00 deadline – only slightly to the annoyance of her partner, Jaime Guede Cid. "I have to laugh because I'd been asking her all morning to come along," said the FC Barcelona fan.
East Londoner Stuart McKenzie was the first fan to get his hands on the European Champion Clubs' Cup in the record attempt after timing his lunch break to perfection. "It's a great experience to follow in the footsteps of all those famous players," he said, as the famous silverware moved on down the line. "It's not every day you get a chance to do something like this."
A group of schoolchildren from La Garenne-Colombes near Paris also had an unforgettable encounter with the trophy and its female counterpart, though it took more than one pair of hands for them to raise the 73.5cm-tall cup, which weighs 8.5kg. "We were having lunch in the park when we saw there was something going on," said their teacher Laétitia Dupont. "They were all very excited to take part and it will be a great memory for them."
The previous best of 250 for a trophy lift was eclipsed 36 minutes into the hour-long attempt as supporters eager to grasp club football's most coveted prize formed a lengthy queue in the central London location.
UEFA Champions Festival ambassador Graeme Le Saux, who had helped to open the week-long event with the help of Gary Lineker on Saturday, added: "A world record is great going on a Monday when it's a bit quieter here after a busy weekend. It was good fun for everyone involved and word is getting around that the festival is a great place to visit. The more we can encourage people to engage with it the more rewarding it is for them and for those working here."
The event provides numerous attractions where visitors can show off their talents, including daily skills clinics on the main pitch. Le Saux continued: "At certain slots during the day myself and other ambassadors are putting on free sessions for children who have come along. We have two groups of 24 over a two-hour period and run a sessions with Football Association coaches. It's a way of encouraging boys and girls to play football and hopefully going away with some lasting memories and a few tips."
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