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AC Milan ace Kaká and Liverpool FC front man Fernando Torres take pride of place in the latest issue of Champions – the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League – which heralds the start of another exciting season in Europe's premier club competition.
Kaká, who recently captured the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award, talks exclusively to Champions about his nerves before last May's UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool FC in Athens. The Brazilian international is one of seven players interviewed in issue No25. Some of them – Chelsea FC goalkeeper Petr Čech and Arsenal FC forward Emmanuel Adebayor – are seasoned European campaigners; some are recognised internationals who have recently moved clubs, including Torres and Manchester United FC forward Carlos Tévez; and some – Olympique Lyonnais striker Kader Keita and Olympique de Marseille midfielder Samir Nasri – are about to experience the big time for the first time. All reveal their hopes and dreams for the campaign.
Italy's Azzurri are world champions, the Rossoneri of AC Milan are kings of Europe ... Champions reports on this Italian renaissance in the wake of a difficult time for the country's domestic football. This edition also looks back at six managers and their first experiences of leading a team in Europe. From Brian Clough's Derby County FC in 1972 to José Mourinho's triumphant challenge with FC Porto in 2004, we remember the accusations, the mud, tossed coins, Beatles ties, heroes and villains encountered along the way. Home comforts matter in football – Champions also considers how a team still benefit from playing at their own ground.
Then there is a focus on several coaches in this year's competition. Real Madrid CF's new man at the top, Bernd Schuster, gives his first exclusive interview since taking charge; Olympique de Marseille's Albert Emon talks about keeping 60,000 fans happy; and Porto's Jesualdo Ferreira ruminates on life after losing key players. Champions catches up with Romário too. The Brazilian legend is still playing and still showing youngsters how it is done. He speaks to Champions exclusively about his career, his life and his religious beliefs. Manchester United FC's Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo is just starting out in comparison, and in yet another exclusive, we find out how tough he found leaving home at 13, in extracts from his yet-to-be published autobiography.
Champions, the perfect companion to the biggest club tournament in football, is available at all good newsagents.
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