A special appearance by the trophy was the main attraction as the UEFA Europa League Truck Tour entertained fans ahead of FC Schalke 04's game against FC Viktoria Plzeň in Germany.
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Fans in Gelsenkirchen were given a tantalising glimpse of the UEFA Europa League trophy as FC Schalke 04 prepared to take on FC Viktoria Plzeň on Thursday.
The Arena AufSchalke was the venue for the latest stop on the UEFA Europa League Truck Tour ahead of the round of 32 second leg.
Once known as the City of a Thousand Fires, because of its proximity to the beating heart of Germany's coal mining industry, Gelsenkirchen is now building a formidable reputation at the cutting edge of renewable energy production.
One flame that still burns as brightly as ever in the Ruhr metropolis is the locals' passion for their club. So it was no surprise that the Schalke supporters welcomed the UEFA Europa League Truck Tour, organised by UEFA in conjunction with adidas, with typical enthusiasm.
The star attraction was the trophy itself, making a special appearance nine months after it was last held aloft in the Dublin Arena. However, a colourful exhibition of competition memorabilia, as well as interactive attractions such as the Grab Your Ticket competition, ensured there was plenty to keep the fans entertained.
The adidas Predator Pass Tool also drew in the crowds, with competition reaching fever pitch as the supporters queued to test their skill and reactions. Alfons Christians –a lifelong Schalke fan – was one of the successful contestants.
"It was a lot of fun and it's a really good idea," he said, having travelled from the north-west German coast to attend the game. "Having the trophy in Gelsenkirchen, close enough to touch, is fantastic. You can see how much European football means to the fans here."
The UEFA Europa League Tour Truck will continue its continental journey over the coming weeks, culminating in Romania's capital Bucharest ahead of the 9 May final at the National Arena.