Jakarta revels in trophy tour experience

Steve McManaman and Fredrik Ljungberg were on hand to give the festivities a special flavour as the UEFA Champions Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken, thrilled fans in Jakarta.

The greatest prize in European club football thrilled football fans in Indonesia when the 2013 UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken, came to Jakarta from 10–14 April, after successful legs in Rio de Janeiro and Kinshasa.

Two star names of the recent past – former Real Madrid CF midfielder Steve McManaman, who won the trophy in 2000 and 2002, acting as UEFA Champions League ambassador, and ex-Arsenal FC winger Fredrik Ljungberg as Heineken ambassador – were on hand to lend the festivities an extra special flavour.

Following the opening PR events, the Indonesian leg of the tour kicked off at Jakarta's Gandaria City Shopping Mall – venue for the exhibition highlighting the history of the competition and the players who have made such memorable contributions over more than five decades. Some 7,500 fans visited the exhibition, highlighting the UEFA Champions League's massive appeal in Indonesia.

Last weekend saw McManaman and Ljungberg join the exhibition to meet the fans, sign autographs, take photographs, greet competition winners and conduct interviews with the media. A VIP event attended by numerous local celebrities rounded off a successful leg.

"When you live in Europe, you get to see Champions League football a lot," said the 41-year-old McManaman, "but in places like Latin America or North America or here, sometimes people don't get the opportunity to see the trophy or see people. So it's nice we can bring the trophy to other parts of the world.

"There are people in Jakarta, people in Indonesia, who probably haven't been to a Champions League game," he added. "The only time they see the Champions League trophy is probably on television. So the fact you can bring it here, people can come and have their picture taken with it.

"If you ever get the opportunity to lift the trophy," the former England and Liverpool FC player went on, "it means you've been very successful; it means you've been involved in a team, which is vitally important. So to actually win it is fantastic. And I was lucky enough to win it two times, they were wonderful occasions."

The now retired Ljungberg spoke of the supporters' joy at being close up to the trophy. "I think they're extremely excited," the 36-year-old reflected. "I think it's so important what's [being] done here, because maybe they saw the games on TV and it's so far away and you don't really get contact with the players or the trophies – but today it's all here.

"I think it is an amazing thing to bring the trophy outside Europe and around the world, because it means so much to people. You can see that here today," added the ex-Sweden schemer.

The trophy's next stop after Jakarta was London, setting for the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday 25 May – where it was handed over to the City of London by UEFA President Michel Platini on Friday for safekeeping and public viewing until the big match.

The UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour is an annual event held on different continents during the competition's knockout phase. It is a travelling heritage exhibition and trophy display – focusing on current players, coaches and matches to promote the tournament and its history.

UEFA has a series of objectives for the tour: to bring the UEFA Champions League trophy closer to the supporters and offer them a unique footballing experience; and to share the story of the European Champion Clubs' Cup and UEFA Champions League, including the footballers and clubs who have graced the competition.

The event also encourages people to play football. Fans are key stakeholders in the game, and the tour aims to deepen relations with them in areas of the world where there is huge interest in the sport. Furthermore, it propagates UEFA values such as fair play and respect.