Football fans flocked to Moscow's Red Square as the 2011 trophy tour, presented by UniCredit, brought the full UEFA Champions League experience to the Russian capital.
This autumn's 2011 UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by UniCredit, is now in full swing, with Moscow the latest city to experience the excitement of welcoming European club football's most prestigious prize.
The silverware that the world's best players say is always in their sites visited the Russian capital city's iconic Red Square – where an impressive total of 23,035 visitors came to the trophy tour village over three days between Friday and Sunday to see the trophy and have their photo taken with it. The Moscow stopover followed a similarly successful stay in St Petersburg the weekend before.
As well as football supporters, star players also accompanied the trophy on its latest jaunt. In Moscow, Davor Šuker – the ex-Croatia striker who conquered Europe with Real Madrid CF in 1998 – was on hand as UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour Ambassador; Luís Figo, Official UniCredit Ambassador for the UEFA Champions League and a winner with Madrid in 2002, and local hero Dmitri Alenichev, victorious with FC Porto in 2004, were other stellar names helping to make the event a resounding success.
On Friday, Figo travelled with the trophy across Red Square in a white Ford Mustang, before the former Portuguese international handed the silverware to Šuker and Alenichev in front of the assembled fans and media. The wet weather failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the public, who came wearing the colours not only of their favourite Russian clubs but also of other distinguished European teams.
The supporters were thrilled to meet the three ambassadors who posed for pictures and signed autographs, as well as reminiscing about winning the UEFA Champions League. Šuker took part in another signing session on Saturday.
"When I was a boy I would dream of winning the trophy," said Šuker. "I was lucky enough to win it in 1998 with Real Madrid, and that is why I am glad to see all the fans who have come here from all over the place. For me it is important that footballers who played at the top clubs help more children dream of touching the trophy."
Indeed, the 43-year-old is eager to give something back to the game which brought him stardom and success. "When I was a child, I dreamt of playing for a big club. Real Madrid were one of them and I can say that my dream came true. That is why I work in football now – to give something back to football. It's a task I won't tire of, to help football in general – Croatian, European and world football."
The UEFA Champions League has a truly global reach, with millions of fans following the clubs and the action year after year. To foster a closer relationship with these supporters, the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour was launched to bring a once-in-a-lifetime football experience to their home towns. As a result, fans who have often never had the chance to attend a UEFA Champions League game get the opportunity to learn about the competition's rich history, magic moments, legendary clubs and players – and to see and have their photo taken with one of the most coveted trophies in world sport.
UEFA's objectives for the tour also include encouraging people to play football and learn about the key UEFA values such as respect, the campaign against racism and grassroots/educational activities. UEFA provides the tour with a comprehensive collection of football memorabilia from the European game's illustrious past, and a mini-pitch is set up at the venues to enable the organisation of grassroots events and mini-tournaments.
As acclaimed former players who have graced the UEFA Champions League and brandished the trophy aloft, the ambassadors are available to meet the fans and the media throughout the tour and discuss their memories of the tournament.
Remaining dates and venues for 2011 tour:
• 30 September–2 October: Kyiv, Ukraine; media conference on 30 September
• 7–9 October: Donetsk, Ukraine; media conference on 7 October
• 14–16 October: Belgrade, Serbia; media conference on 14 October