An Ultimate Champions match won by a team of European legends helped bring the curtain down on a five-day celebration of football as the UEFA Champions Festival shut its doors ahead of last night's showpiece in Rome.
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An Ultimate Champions match won by a team of European legends helped bring the curtain down on a five-day celebration of football as the UEFA Champions Festival shut its doors ahead of last night'sfinal at the Stadio Olimpico.
Fans of FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC were entertained daily at the Parco di Colle Oppio and the Arco di Costantino, since former Italy goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani opened the event on Saturday. As in Paris in 2006, Athens in 2007 and Moscow last year, supporters happily queued for photos with the European Champion Clubs' Cup, while displays of memorabilia and images reflecting the excitement of Europe's top club competition – the Champions Collection and the Champions Gallery – also proved popular.
On Tuesday former United players Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Bryan Robson discussed finals past with United fans, while Barcelona ambassador Hristo Stoichkov did likewise at the Catalan team's supporter hub. The festival concluded with the UEFA Young Champions Tournament, a competition for boys and girls aged ten to 16 – all of whom had been in stands cheering on the stars of yesteryear in the Ultimate Champions five-a-side.
The European team coached by Ruud Gullit and captained by his former team-mate Frank Rijkaard beat an Italian selection featuring final ambassador Bruno Conti and other AS Roma favourites. Rui Costa, Leonardo and Michael Laudrup were among the players to shine in a 17-12 victory for the visitors. Former Danish international Laudrup – a European Cup winner with Barça in 1992 – told uefa.com: "It was very hot, but it's always nice to see players you've played against five, ten, 15 or 20 years ago, particularly the Italians from my generation. There were guys from Roma like Conti and [Francesco] Graziani – remember I spent two years at Lazio – but we won the game which was great."