UEFA Champions League Trophy: Tour Of Asia

Two stars who know what it is like to hit the absolute heights in the UEFA Champions League were on hand as European club football's most prestigious prize came to Bangkok. The Thai capital was the latest stop-off on the 2011 UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken, which is currently travelling through Asia. Christian Karembeu and Steve McManaman – who have savoured the glory of lifting the trophy with Real Madrid – acted as Trophy Tour Ambassadors on another memorable leg of the tour.

The pair spoke to the large press turnout, played table football with local celebrities and signed autographs for the crowds of football enthusiasts who came to see – and have their picture taken with – the silverware that the greats all want to win. Karembeu played in the Madrid side that won the UEFA Champions League in 1998 and 2000, while McManaman was part of the Spanish club's triumphs of 2000 – when he scored one of the goals in the victory over Valencia in Paris – and 2002. The duo have fond memories of the glory nights when they hoisted the UEFA Champions League Trophy into the sky.

"The title of European champions, of [UEFA] Champions League winners, is the top title for every club player. A title that you dream of, to have won it twice with Real Madrid was the highlight of my career, and at the same time a revelation because when you get a taste of the Champions League, you catch a virus, you cannot get over it," said former French international midfielder Karembeu.

"That's what I was looking for, it was my adrenaline: to play in the Champions League. Luckily I won two of them, so personally it was more than enough. But as a competitor and a football player, I always wanted to qualify for the Champions League because I knew that this competition was the challenge I was looking for," the 40-year-old added.

"This trophy is the single most important club trophy you can win. You know you're pitting yourself against the best teams in Europe, the best players in Europe. Certainly on a club level, it means everything. If you ask any football player what they want to win, they want to win the Champions League. It's as simple as that," said McManaman, the ex-England winger.

McManaman also had a clear message to supporters who are on the trophy tour's latest route and the 39-year-old said, "The fact you can get within touching distance, or certainly have your picture taken with it "I think it's a great opportunity. It certainly shouldn't be missed. So if there's a Champions League Trophy Tour anywhere near you, come visit, come and enjoy yourself."

The tour is proving a resounding success. Some 17,500 fans attended the events in Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur and Penang – in February and earlier this month, and there is also great expectation for the upcoming legs at the other Thai venues of Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen. After Thailand, supporters in South Korea will have the chance to get up close with the trophy when the tour reaches Seoul on 6 April. Hong Kong is the final destination in mid-April.

• 22-27 February – Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
• 5-6 March – Penang (Malaysia)
• 11-12 March – Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
• 16-17 March – Bangkok (Thailand)
• 19–20 March – Chiang Mai (Thailand)
• 25–27 March – Khon Kaen (Thailand)
• 6–9 April – Seoul (Korea Republic)
• 15–17 April – Hong Kong (China)

Source: UEFA

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