"Whenever you played at Wembley it was a very special moment," said UEFA Champions League final ambassador Steve McManaman, looking forward to the famous stadium hosting a European Cup final for the seventh time in May. It is fair to say that the former Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF winger is well qualified to inform players who harbour dreams of reaching this season's showpiece what lies in store for them.
"You only got there on special occasions, whether it be cup finals or representing your country," said the ex-England midfielder, who lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy twice with Madrid, in 2000 and 2002. "You just couldn't go there and play whenever you wanted to, so whenever you went you had to really cherish the moment – you had to remember things."
If appearing at Wembley were not special enough, the occasion will be all the more unique for the finalists, according to the 40-year-old McManaman. "It is the 150th anniversary of the English FA, which is very important, as everybody knows. We have had a wonderful couple of years in London, with the Olympics and the Paralympics, so I think the Champions League going back there culminates a wonderful occasion for UK sport."
And what will be required of a team to join FC Barcelona, Liverpool, AFC Ajax, Manchester United FC and AC Milan by parading the trophy on the Wembley turf? "It takes a lot of hard work, hunger, passion, desire, and probably a little bit of luck, I think that goes without saying."