The UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken, continues its journey through Asia, with South Korea's capital Seoul the latest stopping point for European club football's most prestigious prize.
The world's leading players all covet the trophy – and former Dutch international Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who lifted the silverware in triumph with FC Barcelona in 2006, was on hand as Trophy Tour Ambassador to meet the football enthusiasts and special guests who came to Seoul to see Europe's premier club honour.
Van Bronckhorst, a member of the Barcelona side that overcame Arsenal FC 2-1 in Paris five years ago, said: "I am honoured to be ambassador, because for me it has been a big tournament, it always has been, and I played in the Champions League with all the teams I played for." Feyenoord, Rangers FC and Arsenal were the 36-year-old's other ports of call besides Barcelona.
"And you know, for me it's a special moment, going onto the pitch and hearing the Champions League song. And of course, winning the trophy in Paris in 2006 is one of the highlights of my career. So to be able to go to places like Korea and really explain the spirit of the Champions League and to give the fans something back here in Asia, it's a very nice thing to do."
Van Bronckhorst, who retired from the game last summer, was kept busy signing autographs and playing table football with guests and visitors. The Seoul event, which also featured a visit from celebrity singer Doojun Yoon, was given widespread media coverage, given South Korea is one of the many Asian countries that passionately follow the UEFA Champions League throughout the season.
Fans were also impressed by the memorabilia collection on display, with a full signed kit from Manchester United FC's South Korean international Park Ji-Sung being a particular favourite.
"We have a lot of people watching the games here," Van Bronckhorst said. "And the games are at three or four o'clock in the morning, so it's a big thing to wake up and watch the games and go to work after. So to be able to bring the trophy here, really up close, for them to see it and feel it, I think it is just a way of saying thanks for all the support the fans are giving the tournament over here."
The trophy has become a true global icon representing the excellence of the UEFA Champions League. For all the world's greatest players, it also symbolises the ultimate achievement in European club football.
The Asian trophy tour is proving a great success. Supporters in Hong Kong will have the opportunity to get up close to the silverware when the last leg of the tour reaches China on 15 April.
• 22-27 February – Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
• 5-6 March – Penang (Malaysia)
• 11-12 March – Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
• 16-17 March – Bangkok (Thailand)
• 19–20 March – Chiang Mai (Thailand)
• 25–27 March – Khon Kaen (Thailand)
• 6–9 April – Seoul (Korea Republic)
• 15–17 April – Hong Kong (China)
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