The UEFA Champions Festival has closed its doors after a week-long celebration of football, with everyone involved in the Hyde Park event hailing it a massive success.
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From world stars to world records, the UEFA Champions Festival in Hyde Park had something for everyone before closing its doors on a week-long celebration of football on Saturday.
Covering an area of 39,000m² and boasting 18 different stalls and activities, the event was opened by Gary Lineker, the UEFA Champions League final ambassador, and Graeme Le Saux, his UEFA Champions Festival counterpart, last Saturday. It kept locals, tourists and fans entertained for seven days in the build-up to the FC Barcelona-Manchester United FC final at Wembley.
The festival reached a climax with Saturday's Ultimate Champions match between a team of England All-Stars and their World counterparts in front of a packed crowd on the main pitch, one of two at the site. With the visitors having established a healthy advantage, the game ended as next goal wins – leaving former England left-back Chris Powell to claim the glory.
"It was great," said former Barcelona left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst. "It's with players I saw on TV when I was young, like John Barnes. It's incredible for me and the whole atmosphere at this festival has been amazing. For the fans, for the children, it's perfect to see the players real close."
Andy Cole, a UEFA Champions League winner with United in 1999, added: "[The festival] is a great thing to do. It's not often that a Champions League final is going to come to Wembley, so when you go and have stuff like this in Hyde Park, I think everyone has really enjoyed it."
The likes of Cafu, Van Bronckhorst, Gianfranco Zola and Dwight Yorke had also lent their skills to clinics throughout the week, giving youngsters memories to last a lifetime. Le Saux, who was at the forefront of those sessions, said: "When you've got former players and coaches providing that sort of service it's a real one-off experience."
On the festival as a whole, Le Saux added: "It's packed and because it's such a nice open stage you can see the interaction of people. The figures are amazing – it more than justifies the investment. The activities on the pitch sum up what it's all about."
Monday had yielded another of the highlights as 417 fans got their hands on the European Champion Clubs' Cup, setting a world record for the biggest number of trophy lifts in an hour. England women's captain Faye White and manager Hope Powell were then involved in skills sessions on Women's Day on Tuesday, 24 hours before the festival proved the centrepiece for UEFA Grassroots Day celebrations across Europe.