Six years after leaving Real Madrid CF for FC Internazionale Milano, Esteban Cambiasso is hoping to win his first UEFA Champions League title at the Santiago Bernabéu on 22 May, when his side face FC Bayern München in the final. The 29-year-old Argentina midfielder, who won the league, UEFA Super Cup and European/South American Cup during his two seasons in Madrid's first team, says it will be a "strange feeling" to go back and reflects on a campaign in which he has bounced back impressively from injury.
UEFA.com: The final will take place at the Bernabéu, a stadium you know well. Did you ever think you might get to play such an important match there when you left Madrid?
Esteban Cambiasso: No, not really; I didn't think about that when I left Real. Fourteen years on from when I first got to the Bernabéu, having first come to Real at the age of 15, it is a strange feeling to think that I now have a great chance to play a Champions League final there.
UEFA.com: What do you like most about the stadium? The atmosphere?
Cambiasso: Above all, the great history. It has hosted some of the greatest matches ever. And it's a nice stadium, because it's very closed and compact; you hear the fans a lot. So I think it will be an incredible atmosphere.
UEFA.com: What has been your favourite moment of the season so far?
Cambiasso: It's difficult to say; for me it has been a very strange season.
The nicest moment was to come back after recovering from my injury, after I had to undergo surgery on the meniscus – because before that you have a lot of doubts and fears. To then come back was a great feeling, and a chance to say thank you to everyone who supported me during that difficult time.
And then when the season was already under way, I think the [UEFA Champions League round of 16] first leg against Chelsea was a match which I felt particularly strongly about. For us, it was a very important moment because we had not got past that stage over the last few years. And after winning at home it gave us the confidence to go to London for the second leg. In London we showed incredible maturity and to win that match gave us a lot of belief.
UEFA.com: In that tie you scored an important goal at home against Chelsea to put Inter 2-1 ahead.
Cambiasso: Yes, but these things happen. Of course it gave me satisfaction, but the thing I remember most about that match is the solidity the team demonstrated to the fans and people watching on TV. We know that you have to show signs sometimes and I think that we struggled in the match in Milan, but we reacted and did very well in London, where we managed to win – and that gave us a lot of confidence and belief.
UEFA.com: The spirit of the squad has helped the team a lot, hasn't it?
Cambiasso: Well, without a strong squad you don't get very far. You can't reach the goals we've set without a strong squad and the high-quality players we have. To get that far you have to give your best performance in every match, every competition, day after day and against every team. You have to always give a top performance and, to be able to do that, everybody has to make his contribution at the right time.
UEFA.com: You are one of the veterans at Inter, having played there for many years. How important is this final for the club, especially after such a long wait for a moment like this?
It's true that it means a lot to the club and the fans, but we shouldn't let the burden of over 40 years of history weigh on us. I think that to reach a final after 38 years means a lot to the club and the fans, especially the younger ones who will be seeing Inter play in the final for the first time. And then it's good to know that the team will give its best to lift that trophy; in a few years' time, we hope we'll be able to say that Inter managed to win that trophy only a short time ago.
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