Italy's football fans continue to flock to see the silverware that the superstars yearn to win – with the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by UniCredit, making another successful stop in Bologna.
The trophy tour had already pulled in large crowds in Milan and Turin, and this time 15,150 visitors turned out in the capital of Emilia-Romagna. The stars of the show in the Piazza XX Settembre were UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour ambassador Fabrizio Ravanelli – who won the title with Juventus in 1996 – and Gianluca Pagliuca, UniCredit ambassador for Bologna and a member of the UC Sampdoria team that reached the 1992 final.
One of the attractions of the tour is the opportunity to take photos alongside the trophy and its ambassadors – and in Bologna, 3,864 pictures were snapped, once more proving the public appeal of the roadshow and its prized asset.
"I think it's a dream, it's very important to do this tour through Italy," said Ravanelli, scorer of the Juventus goal in the 1996 final against AFC Ajax in Rome, which the Turin club won on penalties after a 1-1 draw. "The cities that host this event can be really happy. The people are so passionate for this competition, so just imagine the players on the pitch who fight every day to win the trophy – and are able to say one day: 'I lifted this trophy.'"
Pagliuca was part of a splendid Sampdoria side that went down to a narrow one-goal final defeat by FC Barcelona at Wembley in 1992. "First of all, it's a great pleasure and a great honour," he said of being UniCredit ambassador. "To be one of the chosen ones to represent Bologna, my city, is something that makes me proud, and I accepted the duty with pleasure. After losing a Champions League final, at least I now have the satisfaction of touching the trophy with my hands, 20 years after I saw it lifted by another team."
Football is not just about the elite, however: the grassroots game is also a major element of the trophy tour as it wends its way through Italy. On Sundays at the main stop-offs, fans can see the UniCredit Cup, a youth football tournament featuring 32 teams of children born in 2000/01 – for sides associated with the Centro Sportivo Italiano, which trains youngsters in different sports. The tournament extols the key values of Respect and fair play – principles close to UEFA's heart.
Major stops in Palermo and Naples await the tour en route to the grand finale in Rome from 19–22 October. A free exhibition is available to visitors, who as well as taking a photograph with the trophy receive autographs from the ambassadors. The tour takes in media events, with UEFA and UniCredit representatives joining football celebrities to talk about European club football's blue-riband event.
In Palermo, Naples and Rome, fans will also be able to check out the huge UniCredit Arena, a large pop-up stadium. Complete with entrance tunnel, this arena offers supporters computer-simulated shots on goal – giving them a memorable moment where they can sample playing in a UEFA Champions League match themselves. A video cube comprising four giant TV screens adds to the atmosphere. In addition, a memorabilia exhibition includes players' boots, jerseys and a changing room with kits from all 13 UEFA Champions League-winning clubs.
Remaining dates and venues for 2012 tour
5–7 October: Palermo (Piazzale del Fante, next to the Stadio Renzo Barbera)
12–14 October: Naples (Piazza del Plebiscito)
19–22 October: Rome (Piazza del Popolo)
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