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With the UEFA Europa League final at Turin's Juventus Stadium on 14 May, there was no better choice as ambassador for the event than Ciro Ferrara.
Ferrara won the predecessor UEFA Cup with SSC Napoli, scoring when his home-town club beat VfB Stuttgart 5-4 on aggregate in the 1989 final. He then joined Juve and spent 11 glorious years at the club, capped by UEFA Champions League glory in 1996, and even had a spell as interim coach in 2009. Ferrara spoke to UEFA.com about his appointment as ambassador, his memories of his own triumphs and the city of Turin.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to be ambassador?
Ciro Ferrara: I would first like to thank UEFA for giving me the chance – it is a great competition and I have found it to be excellently organised. To be the ambassador of the Europa League makes me very happy. The role of an ambassador is the role of representing – representing what UEFA is, and representing an important competition like the Europa League.
I was lucky enough to win it with Napoli in 1989, which is probably why I was selected, in addition to what I did as a player on the pitch, transmitting the right values. I am very happy about it.
UEFA.com: What are your memories of 1989?
Ferrara: Success is always nice, but for me that was the first success at international level, and it was also the first success for Napoli internationally. So I experienced a great and indescribable joy back then. It was also a success with my city, so I felt pretty responsible in that sense. Today when I meet fans, they remember what happened back then.
They remember that goal I scored, they remember that match, and the strange thing is that they even remember who gave the assist for my goal. Everybody remembers [Diego] Maradona, who assisted my goal with a header. I was playing in a really strong team, and to travel to Stuttgart as favourites was just a beautiful experience, because the city just went crazy for us.
UEFA.com: What does Turin mean to you?
Ferrara: Well I still spend time in Turin, and actually still live there. I spent a lot of my football career in Turin. After playing ten domestic league seasons at Napoli, I then played 11 seasons for Juventus, and then I became an official and coach there.
Turin has its own history, and is represented by two clubs in the city. The final will be played in one of their stadiums, which in this case is the stadium of Juventus, who have been in the past and are today a club of excellence at international level. It's a beautiful stadium, and I think it will be a wonderful stage for it.
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