The Finale London, official match ball for the 2011 UEFA Champions League final, has been launched by adidas with a helping hand from Samir Nasri, Salomon Kalou and Jermain Defoe.
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Representatives from the three London clubs still involved in the UEFA Champions League – Arsenal FC's Samir Nasri, Salomon Kalou of Chelsea FC and Jermain Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur FC – today helped UEFA and adidas unveil the official match ball for this season's final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 28 May.
The Finale London becomes the 11th in the series of match balls supplied by adidas for the UEFA Champions League final – marking the latest milestone in the sports-apparel manufacturer's partnership with UEFA – and will make its competitive debut in the conclusion to the European club season in the English capital. The red-and-white design of the Finale London reflects the cross of St George, the patron saint of England, while the ball also includes an orange top star and the final logo of two lions holding the UEFA Champions League trophy.
The famous stadium will host the final for a record sixth time, and UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said the prestigious fixture "needed to come back to Wembley after 19 years' wait".
He added: "We expect a great night of football here with close to 90,000 spectators and two major European teams. The starball is an icon of the Champions League and it's an incredible privilege to play with it. Every year we have a new ball and every final we have a new ball. It's important to mark the uniqueness of every final we play by blending the elements of the Champions League into the elements of the city where we play."
Tottenham's Jermain Defoe kicked off the launch with an unannounced visit to a local school, handing out signed balls to delighted pupils. He also played football with the children, who revelled in having their photo taken with the England striker.
The hope for Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri and Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou, meanwhile, was that their sides would meet in the final. "I would love an Arsenal-Chelsea final because it's two clubs from London," Nasri said, before adding: "I like the ball – red and white is Arsenal colours so maybe it's a sign for us to get to the final. I have a dream about the Champions League – it's the best competition for a club, we're still in it and we want to come back to Wembley."
Kalou said: "I prefer [to play Arsenal in the final] because we have a good record against them. But every time we've been to Wembley we've had a good game – hopefully we'll get to this final and do it again. It's a great stadium with a great atmosphere, playing here is always special, so I'm looking forward to it."
The Finale London follows the pattern established by last season's Finale Madrid, where the technology of the ball was adjusted to fit the star panel design, making the ball an even more significant icon of the event. Its star panel and hexagonal design ensure the truest possible flight, while the ball retains the goose-bump texture of previous editions to guarantee more power, swerve and control.