UEFA Europa League final ambassador Uwe Seeler is a Hamburg man through and through. The son of a Hamburger SV player, the striker developed in the club's youth ranks and went on to score 404 goals for the team in 476 league games before retiring in 1972. A statue of Seeler's foot stands outside the Hamburg Arena.
Seeler won the 1960 German title and the 1963 German Cup with HSV and was named West Germany's Player of the Year in 1960, 1964 and 1970. 'Uns Uwe' ('Our Uwe' in the dialect of northern Germany) was also a popular international player, appearing in four FIFA World Cup finals and earning a reputation for fairness and modesty, which was only enhanced by a spell as HSV president in the 1990s. He became the first sportsman to be made an honorary citizen of Hamburg in 2003.
uefa.com: What does being the ambassador for the UEFA Europa League final mean to you?
Uwe Seeler: It is a really great joy for me and an honour for the city of Hamburg to host the first ever Europa League final. We have a beautiful stadium and I am counting on a sensational atmosphere. It will be the biggest event of 2010. We are all looking forward to it and everybody is very welcome.
uefa.com: What do you think are the highlights for visitors to Hamburg?
Seeler: Hamburg is an international city, a beautiful city – for me the most beautiful city in the world, even though there are more beautiful cities in the world, and I've seen the world. You need at least a week to get to know Hamburg just a bit. The most beautiful things in Hamburg are the harbour and the Speicherstadt in the middle of the city, which is nice for sightseeing tours. Theatre, stage plays, musicals: Hamburg has it all. I can only say to all our guests: make sure you spend enough time here.
uefa.com: What are your fondest memories of your time as an HSV player?
Seeler: I stopped playing in 1972, so that is already 37 years ago, but of course the best memories are the German title and cup. When you go from the youth squad into the senior team, that is a big moment, and also when you play your first match for the national team. Then of course the World Cups. It was a different time. You still had the northern league and we won that almost every year. All eleven players in the team came from the youth squad: eleven men from Hamburg. We will probably never see something like that again.
uefa.com: You spent your whole career at one club. These days, players change clubs frequently and transfer fees are very high. How do you see this development?
Seeler: I can live with that. I had the chance to go to play in Italy but I stayed in Hamburg. I am happy I did, but in today's world we have to watch out that things don't get out of hand. Maybe the wages and transfer fees paid are getting a bit ridiculous, but we also have to understand that a player will take what he can get.
uefa.com: Do you still follow the club today?
Seeler: If you are an HSV man, then you are an HSV man for life. Whenever I am in the city, I always go to home matches.
uefa.com: HSV are playing in the UEFA Europa League. Do you think they have a chance of reaching the final in their own stadium?
Seeler: I am always optimistic and I believe that we have a very good chance. The team will be aiming to play the final in their own stadium, but of course every team needs a bit of luck. I will keep my fingers crossed.
uefa.com: Do you have a final message for fans interested coming to the final?
Seeler: I want to send my greetings to all the fans in Europe. Come to Hamburg and you will be delighted. In the stadium you will certainly see a great game of football. It will be a football celebration, so I can only say: welcome to Hamburg!
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