When the UEFA Champions League Trophy arrived in Bucharest, on a hot Saturday in September, Adrian was the first in line to see it. A 27-year-old Manchester United fan, wearing his team’s red t-shirt and branded backpack, he got to George Enescu square 30 minutes before the visiting opening hours, with a brown book of autographed pictures of famous players and coaches – over 2.000 in total – under his arm.
For Romanian football fans like Adrian, who loves the game since he was 8, events like #UCLTrophyTour, presented by UniCredit , are the only chance to see football’s ultimate trophy live. Nowadays, Romanian teams can’t get close to the final stages of the biggest club competition in the world (only once won by Steaua Bucharest, in 1986). They also get the chance to meet and get autographs from previous winners of this most coveted cup, football legends such as Miodrag Belodedici, this year’s Official UniCredit Ambassador for the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, or Claude Makélélé, Official UEFA Ambassador for the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour.
At 10am, the two of them showed up in the square, carrying the trophy up the stairs of a red truck that was built especially for the Trophy Tour. When the Champions League famous anthem started playing, a bunch of children who were waiting noisily around the truck went silent, and watched mesmerized as the stars displayed the trophy on an open balcony, then started waving. Bucharest was the third stop of the tour in Romania, after Iași and Bacău, where Belodedici signed thousands of autographs, and kids even skipped school to be there.
The #UCLTrophyTour aims to inspire young generations and bring them close to sports excellence, says Belodedici, the only Romanian to win it twice. “There are a lot of children who love football, watch it on TV and dream about getting there and playing for the trophy, just like I did when I was a child. But playing for this trophy means you have to be really passionate, well prepared, have a team behind you that helps you improve. You have to be a winner.”
Being a winner is an attitude that applies to all of us in our real lives, says Anca Ungureanu, Identity and Communication Director at UniCredit Bank, who’s been a sponsor of UEFA Champions League since 2009, and its official bank since 2013. “We all have obstacles we overcome in our daily lives. And bringing this symbol of performance closer to people is a way of telling them that it is possible, they can get there, even if it requires hard work. It’s an initiative that fuels Romanian’s love of football, but also the drive to be successful,” says Ungureanu.
Each year, the tour has a different European route. Romania was the first stop of this year’s edition, and the trophy will keep on traveling, in its customized red truck, for thousands of kilometres, making stops in four more countries: Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Hungary.
In each of them, it will stop for a day or two, like it did in Bucharest, and turn into a spectacular 200-square-meter trophy exhibition space, a pop-up football museum. The fans will enter in teams of 11, will play an interactive game against a team of stars, and they’ll admire an exhibition of memorabilia signed by some of the greatest legends ever to play in the UEFA Champions League, like Messi, Ronaldo or Beckham. Then they will climb up the stairs to the open balcony where the shinning trophy will be displayed, sit next to it like they’ve just won it, and snap a picture.
Afterwards, they will climb down and leave the truck smiling, checking their book of autographs, now with new names added to it.
Part of a series dedicated to the supporters who help make the conference possible. We thank them for their contribution.