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Sunny California provided a fantastic backdrop to the closing date of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour of the United States – presented by Heineken – with star names in attendance to give the tour's last leg a special touch.
FIFA World Cup winners Jürgen Klinsmann and Bebeto served as Trophy Tour ambassadors as the US jaunt reached Los Angeles, its final port of call after a hugely successful month which had thrilled football fans in New York, Boston, Chicago as well as its prestigious final destination.
Klinsmann, now a coach, won the World Cup in 1990 and the UEFA European Championship in 1996 with Germany, for whom he earned 108 caps and scored 47 goals. Bebeto also lifted the World Cup, in 1994, and registered 42 goals in 76 appearances as a striker for Brazil. Both former forwards played at the top of the European club game during distinguished careers.
Over a fine weekend, the Trophy Tour took in various sports or soccer bars in Anaheim, Santa Monica, Culver City and Tustin. More than a thousand fans visited the venues to have their photo taken with the silverware coveted by the world's leading players and by major European clubs.
The concluding Trophy Tour VIP event was held in Hollywood at the famous Les Deux club, just a block away from the Hollywood Boulevard. Here Klinsmann and Bebeto unveiled the trophy together with Heineken ambassador and soccer-loving actor, Clive Owen.
Some 350 guests, among them players from the LA Galaxy, were introduced to the glamour of the UEFA Champions League via an introductory video, history exhibition stands and the unique memorabilia that was displayed, portraying five decades of European club football's blue-riband competition. UEFA also used the tour to promote its values such as Respect and fair play.
"On a club level and throughout history, it's THE competition in Europe. It was always the biggest trophy to win for big teams, if it's Barcelona, Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich or other ones," said Klinsmann. "What happened now over the last ten to 12 years is really that the Champions League throughout the world sets the tone.
"You get the best players around the globe playing in this competition, and they want to measure themselves with the best. So they are looking forward to those knockout matches, they are looking forward to the big games, they want to see if one top player is better than the other. And the coaches want to measure themselves. So there's a lot of electricity. There's so much energy in that competition – you don't need to motivate players to play in the Champions League."
Bebeto, meanwhile, described the UEFA Champions League Trophy as "a trophy which is desired by many players. "I didn't have that chance, it was a trophy I would really like to have won," he reflected, "but unfortunately God didn't want it."
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