Naples lived up to its reputation as a passionate football city when the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by UniCredit, came to town on the penultimate leg of a resoundingly successful visit of Italy.
The autumnal rain did little to douse the enthusiasm of the locals in their quest to see European club football's most coveted prize. A total of 21,500 visitors attended the tour site in the Piazza del Plebiscito over three days between 12 and 14 October, taking 4,970 photos of the silverware. UEFA Champions League trophy tour ambassador Careca and UniCredit ambassador Ciro Ferrara – former team-mates at SSC Napoli – were on hand to give the event special magic.
It is a great pleasure for me personally, because I miss Naples, the city of Naples, and their fans," said Careca, who played up front for Napoli between 1987 and 1993, winning the UEFA Cup and Italian title alongside Ferrara. The Brazilian added: "To be an ambassador for the Champions League is a great honour for me. To come back to Naples and be close to the supporters after I played here for six years, when we were very successful, gives me great satisfaction."
Ferrara was born in Naples, and lifted the 1989 UEFA Cup as well as the 1987 and 1990 Italian titles with Napoli before moving to Juventus and winning the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup in 1996. "I have to say it's a great honour for me to be part of this project," he said. "It can give even more visibility to this massive competition, which we former players are especially passionate about. There is huge interest from our side.
"Coming home is always nice," he added. "My adventure in this competition, the current Champions League, started here. My first match was a difficult one against Real Madrid. So my adventure began here, an adventure which ended with me winning the trophy." Ferrera scored the first penalty as Juventus beat AFC Ajax 4-2 in a shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in the 1996 final in Rome.
The trophy tour is now gearing up for its final destination – Rome, and the Italian capital's Piazza del Popolo, between 19 and 22 October. On the Sunday, fans will be able to enjoy the UniCredit Cup, a 32-team youth tournament for children born in 2000/01 and playing for sides associated with the Centro Sportivo Italiano (which trains youngsters in different sports). The competition is notable for the focus it gives to the values of respect and fair play.
A free exhibition will also be open to visitors, who can take a photo with the trophy and receive autographs from the ambassadors. UEFA and UniCredit representatives will be joining football celebrities to discuss the UEFA Champions League and what makes the competition so special.
In Rome, fans will be able to check out the huge UniCredit Arena, a large pop-up stadium complete with entrance tunnel. It offers supporters computer-simulated shots on goal – and the chance to feel how it is to play in a UEFA Champions League match. A video cube comprising four giant television screens adds to the atmosphere, while a memorabilia exhibition displays players' boots, jerseys as well as a changing room with kits from all 13 UEFA Champions League-winning clubs.
Remaining venue for the 2012 tour
19–22 October: Rome (Piazza del Popolo)
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