"This is like my Super Bowl," Mariza told UEFA.com as Portugal's most celebrated modern fado singer prepares to give some local flavour to the UEFA Champions League opening ceremony.
The UEFA Champions League opening ceremony will have an exciting fado flavour, with one of Portugal's most celebrated singers, Mariza, set to give her own interpretation of the UEFA Champions League anthem at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. The most celebrated modern exponent of the mournful, emotional singing style which is unique to Portugal, the 40-year-old Mariza spoke to UEFA.com about the honour of taking part and how she is making one of the most famous songs in world sport her own.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to be featuring in the opening ceremony of such an important event as the UEFA Champions League final?
Mariza: It is a privilege. It is incredible, as I never imagined I would be doing something like this. After singing Portugal's national anthem in a Portugal v Korea match some years ago I thought I would have no further involvement in the world of football, but this is not just about football – it is a celebration, a major event. Of course it is the biggest football game in the world, between two great teams. People of different nationalities and religions will all be coming together to celebrate a great occasion.
UEFA.com: How do you think Lisbon will welcome all these visitors for the UEFA Champions League final?
Mariza: I hope Lisbon will be a great host. I think this is very good for the city. It will show a different side of the city, perhaps a Lisbon that a lot of people do not know – a beautiful Lisbon that knows how to welcome its visitors with great food and friendly people, who are also great football fans.
UEFA.com: Can you tell us something about your performance today?
Mariza: It is a great surprise for me as I never imagined myself singing this song, which is an anthem we usually hear every time we see the UEFA logo. Usually, you only hear the chorus, so when they presented me with the whole song, I got the greatest scare of my life, as I thought: 'How can I sing this; how is it possible to sing it?' It is in a completely different range to mine and it is a long way away from my musical background, but we managed to find a solution that it is very elegant. For me this is like my Super Bowl – it is a different way of shining and singing in a completely different way.
UEFA.com: Is it important for Portuguese culture that you get to perform before this event?
Mariza: Even though I am not singing in Portuguese – the anthem has three different languages (German, French and English) – I've tried to give it a personal touch, a fado touch. It was very difficult but the fact that I am a Portuguese singer and the final is played here gives Portugal a great glow.
UEFA.com: Are you a football fan?
Mariza: I don't know anything about football. I don't understand any of the rules, like offside and the others, but I think this is a beautiful spectacle, very emotional. I watched Real Madrid against Barcelona recently and that was a spectacle too. Football is something which touches people so much. It is a completely different vibe from my world, music. I hope we will have a brilliant, emotional game, and I hope the best team win.