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Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool FC for 20 years, and in the first team for ten of those. In the latest edition of the official UEFA Champions League magazine Champions, the Reds' inspirational skipper talks exclusively about the joy and pain of winning and losing finals, how the Anfield club belong in Europe, and the ease of playing behind gifted Spanish striker Fernando Torres. Gerrard says that if he could be like any other player, it would be FC Barcelona's brilliant Argentinian Leo Messi. "If I had his balance, skill and his ability to go past five opponents, I wouldn't be a bad player..."
Mutu back on track
Adrian Mutu is not a bad player either. Following a period beset by injury worries, the ACF Fiorentina striker is back on track and back to his best. He speaks candidly of his time out, and how he has rebuilt his life and career under the stewardship of coach Cesare Prandelli ... and more importantly, his mother. Champions aslo spends the afternoon in the company of PSV Eindhoven coach Huub Stevens, who tells us that he has the second best job in the world, and reckons that the secret to success is laughter and a willingness to learn.
Face-to-face with Europe's top stars, we hear how Werder Bremen's defensive middle man Torsten Frings revels in the art of attacking football; why Juventus' defender Giorgio Chiellini has more energy at centre-back; and why FC Bayern München's Franck Ribéry is not like Zinédene Zidane. "He is much taller than me," says the current French international; and Manchester United FC's Edwin van der Sar gives a masterclass in goalkeeping.
England v Italy
There has always been a fierce rivalry between England and Italy in the European club competitions, with the English sides having the upper hand for the moment. However, it was not always this way. Even Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson was a bit in awe of Italian clubs and coaches at one time, says respected journalist Patrick Barclay, as Champions charts the changing face of this particular contest.
Midfield is often where the game is won and lost. In Champions' dossier, Brazilian legend Falcão tells us that players should "ignore their coaches and improvise". The playmakers are saluted, and the question is asked as to when did the 'water-carriers' in a team become the new No10s?
The new issue of Champions explores the history of Vfl Borussia Mönchengladbach, who were a much-feared proposition in the 1970s – for every triumph, though, tragedy was lurking around the corner for the German side. In Russia, Dick Advocaat has recently led FC Zenit St. Petersburg to the domestic and UEFA Cup titles – but why do Zenit fans still dream of 1984?
Elsewhere, we honour the need for the game's entertainers; introduce Arsenal FC's young Gunners – the fledgling reserves who are showing the skill and intelligence to make it to the top; and join UEFA Champions League newcomers Anorthosis Famagusta FC, who are showing they can live with the big guns in this season's competition. Champions, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League, is on sale on newsstands across Europe.
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