Hundreds of fans took the opportunity to catch the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup trophies as they went on public display in Prague's iconic Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) on Saturday.
This unprecedented visit by European club football's most coveted trophies was one of two countdown events in the Czech capital to promote the forthcoming staging of the UEFA Super Cup in the city. The other was a Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) press conference on Friday at Stadion Eden, setting for the match between FC Bayern München and Chelsea FC on 30 August.
With either European champions Bayern or UEFA Europa League holders Chelsea set to lift the UEFA Super Cup on Czech soil in less than a month's time, FAČR president Miroslav Pelta expressed his association's pride at being selected to host the big game. "We are very proud to be the first country where the final will be held after moving from Monaco," he said. "We are ready to make all necessary efforts to make it an unforgettable evening."
Prague will be just the second UEFA Super Cup venue since the competition became a one-off final in 1998 and moved to Monaco, its base for 15 seasons. "We could hardly wish to have a more exciting couple of opponents in Prague – Bayern with Josep Guardiola, Chelsea with José Mourinho and Petr Čech, who will be playing 'at home'. It will be an extraordinary sporting experience for everybody," enthused Mr Pelta.
FAČR coordinating manager Ivo Sekerka spoke in depth about the preparations undertaken at Stadion Eden, which have included laying a new pitch, enhancing the floodlighting and enlarging the media facilities at a ground opened in May 2008. He also discussed the fan zones and signage systems that will be in operation in the city as well as the UEFA Super Cup charity ticket auction launched last week by UEFA.
Tomáš Ujfaluši, FAČR ambassador for the event, helped carry the trophies to the stadium for the conference, which was shown live on national television. It was not his first acquaintance with two of them, as the former Czech Republic defender – a UEFA Europa League winner with Club Atlético de Madrid – explained to UEFA.com: "In 2010 we [Atlético] faced Internazionale Milano in the UEFA Super Cup. We were not fancied but still managed to win [2-0]. It is a great feeling to come into contact with the trophy again, especially in Prague.
"Petr Čech will come home, and for him it will be a fantastic occasion," Ujfaluši added. "I had similar feelings when I played the Europa League final in Hamburg [Atlético against Fulham FC], where I had spent three seasons. That also had a bit of magic about it, though Hamburg was not my real home."
Nor was the silverware an unfamiliar sight to another former Czech international, Vladimír Šmicer, who won the 2001 UEFA Cup and 2005 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC. "All those wonderful memories come flooding back whenever I see the trophies together – I had them in my hands," he said. "The Super Cup final will be the greatest match ever staged in the Czech Republic. We are all very proud that Prague was chosen as the venue," continued Šmicer, now Czech national team manager.
Asked about his favourites for the Stadion Eden showpiece, he replied diplomatically: "I will cross my fingers for Petr Čech, although Bayern have a very strong side and it will be very difficult for Petr and his team."
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