Fans in Enschede were given the opportunity to get up close to the UEFA Europa League trophy on Thursday.
The trophy was on show as part of the UEFA Europa League Truck Tour, organised in conjunction with adidas, which rolled into town as home side FC Twente prepared for their round of 16 first-leg confrontation with FC Schalke 04. Coincidentally, the Bundesliga team's ground was the last stop for the roadshow in the previous round.
Enschede is a former textile manufacturing centre which has reinvented itself as an emerging base for high-tech companies, and is also known for its vibrant artistic scene. Twente, formed in 1965, have also firmly re-established themselves at the top of the Dutch footballing hierarchy after a somewhat fallow period.
The club's fortunes dipped for much of the 1980s and 90s, but the new millennium brought with it a definite upturn in the Tukkers' fortunes, the highlight of which was being crowned Eredivisie champions for the first time in 2010 under the leadership of Steve McClaren.
The former England manager is back at the helm after brief stints at VfL Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest FC, and now Twente are in the hunt for European honours. Having the UEFA Europa League Truck Tour at the FC Twente Stadion was testimony to that.
"It's great to be so close to the cup itself," said Ron Kompier, a Twente supporter who had travelled almost 200km from the south of the Netherlands for the match. "It brings the idea of winning it that bit closer. Surely [Twente captain] Peter Wisgerhof will be holding it high after the final."
Although the trophy was naturally the centre of attention, the adidas Predator Pass Tool also proved extremely popular. One by one, fans tried to win a prize by hitting lighted panels with the ball in a test of reaction time and footballing ability.
Nearby was a colourful exhibition of competition memorabilia, including signed shirts from last year's finalists FC Porto and SC Braga, as well as interactive attractions such as the Grab Your Ticket competition.
The UEFA Europa League Tour Truck will continue its continental journey over the coming weeks, culminating in Romania's capital Bucharest ahead of the 9 May final at the National Arena.
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