"You can feel something great is around the corner," says ex-Poland keeper and ambassador Jerzy Dudek as Warsaw prepares to host the UEFA Europa League final.
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Having staged three group games at UEFA EURO 2012 as well as a quarter-final and a semi-final, the National Stadium Warsaw will host another major event on Wednesday 27 May.
The venue, located on the eastern banks of the Vistula in the Warsaw district of Praga Poludnie, will hold the 2015 UEFA Europa League final – almost a decade to the day since final ambassador Jerzy Dudek's greatest career moment.
The former Feyenoord, Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF goalkeeper donned the Poland shirt 60 times, but tells UEFA.com that his latest role in his homeland is also a source of great pride.
UEFA.com: Warsaw's National Stadium stages another major event. Has the venue benefited from the EURO 2012 experience?
Jerzy Dudek: Warsaw has everything it takes to make it a memorable final. It's part of the legacy of EURO 2012, the experience gained from that tournament is now paying off. Warsaw could make people talk about this final for years to come.
UEFA.com: With the locals delighted to be hosting the decider, can you feel the excitement?
Dudek: At first, no one could believe we were hosting it, but the anticipation is rising every day – all the way to the final. There will be a great atmosphere in the city, in the fan zones and at the stadium. You can feel that something great is around the corner.
UEFA.com: How will Warsaw welcome the finalists?
Dudek: We are considered in Europe as very hospitable. We like to have guests around, and even if it comes with some costs we like to welcome them with open arms. The adage 'there may be no money to live on, but there will always be enough money to impress the guests' is close to our hearts.
UEFA.com: It would be a pity to travel to Poland and only visit the stadium. Which cities would you recommend?
Dudek: Our country has a lot to offer. If I was a fan from anywhere in Europe, I would spend two days in Krakow to truly see the city. Then I would take a high-speed train to Warsaw to watch the final. Finally I would take the pendolino to Gdansk. Those are historical places worth visiting, and no one would regret going there.
UEFA.com: What are the benefits of having the trophy in Warsaw?
Dudek: The trophy tour is great for anyone who has not had the chance to enjoy it before. It's exciting for the fans as they can get a photo with the trophy. It's an inspiration for the youngsters. The tour also shows them that we can make it – that we can be proud as a nation and shouldn't have any insecurities. It's one of the benefits of hosting the final.
UEFA.com: You know very well what it means to feature in a major final. What advice would you give the players who contest the game?
Dudek: They know the importance of the match and the road they've taken to get there. Those who win will live on for eternity – people will always remember their triumph.
UEFA.com: Tell us about your role as final ambassador.
Dudek: First and foremost, I want to thank UEFA for choosing me for this. It's an honour to represent UEFA in my homeland and a source of great pride to have been given the responsibility. I have quite a few tasks as a result, making me quite busy. On the one hand it's a pleasure, but then when you walk onto the stage there is always some stress.