Nicolò De Marchi can finally rest in Germany after Juventus took him up on his pledge to "walk to Berlin" for a ticket if the Bianconeri made it to the UEFA Champions League final.
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"Once I got to Berlin, the pain disappeared," Nicolò De Marchi told UEFA.com after the 22-year-old proved his devotion to Juventus by walking most of the way from Turin to Berlin for the final.
De Marchi arrived in Berlin on Friday at the end of a nine-day trek in which he travelled over 900km – mostly on foot, with some stretches by bike, and a particularly perilous 12km stretch in which he was permitted to get a lift in a car.
"Everything stems from a tweet by Juventus in which they asked supporters what we'd be willing to do if Juve made it to the final," De Marchi told UEFA.com. "I said I would walk to Berlin if we managed to qualify. That's what happened. I was contacted and offered a chance to have a ticket for the final, which was my dream. Juventus said to me: 'Since there's not much time, and it's a long way to walk, we'll give you a bike too.' I accepted without hesitation."
De Marchi was due to reach the Olympiastadion on Thursday but took an extra day because of fatigue. "All things considered, my feet are fine – the problem is my legs," he said. "My calves have suffered so much in recent days, but once I got to Berlin the pain disappeared. I'm so happy to be here and to have made it.
"The physical effort, which was huge, had been building day by day. I was in pain in the evening, then in the afternoon too. One day towards the end, I got up and my legs barely responded to what I wanted. It was so tough. I don't know how I managed to find the strength. I think it was thanks to the strength of the people, my family and friends who have always supported me."
It has been a painful but fulfilling journey. "The best moments of the trip include when I set off, leaving from the stadium and seeing it empty," he said. "That was beautiful. Receiving day-to-day support from people was very moving. That made me stronger. Also the fact it became more and more difficult with each passing day and I kept saying to myself: 'It's OK, I'm getting there.'
"The worst moment was whenever there was a steep ascent when I was walking or on the bike. I would go round a bend, look and say: 'Oh no, another steep bit,' which meant another huge effort for my legs. It was tough but I always managed it. I carried on calling on my last remaining energy reserves. And now I'm here."