Football legends gather for ‘Ultimate Champions Tournament’ in Istanbul


Istanbul hosted the Champions Festival on Friday that saw legendary football players come together for an “Ultimate Champions Tournament” ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final. 

The four-day festival featuring Marco Materazzi, Esteban Cambiasso, Patrick Vieira, Roberto Carlos, Lucio, Eric Abidal, Ivan Cordoba, Maicon, Kaka, Christian Karambeu and Michael Essien — took place at the Yenikapi Event Space in the Fatih district.

Turkish legends also participated, including Hamit Altintop, Arda Turan, Nuri Sahin, Semih Senturk and Okan Buruk.

Four teams competed in 15-minute matches. Three comprised of legends captained by Alessandro Nesta, Cafu, and Luis Figo, and another was led by Altintop.

The event kicked off on the Ultimate Champions Pitch with two semifinals, followed by a third-place match and the final.

Figo’s team and Cafu’s side advanced to the final after beating Turkish legend Altintop’s team and Nesta’s side, respectively, in the semifinals.

Cafu’s team won the tournament after beating Figo’s side on penalties following a 4-4 draw in the final. Nesta’s team was third while Altintop’s side finished fourth in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Cambiasso took the Player of the Final Match award.   

Festival to end Sunday 

The prestigious trophy will be on full display under the iconic Star Ball Dome, where visitors can enjoy a unique experience with the most sought-after prize in club football from Thursday until the trophy departs Saturday for the stadium.

The Champions Festival will conclude Sunday with a benefit concert for victims of the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes in Türkiye on the main stage with special guests.

The Ataturk Olympic stadium accommodates 72,000 people, but authorities are expecting other spectators from Italy and England who follow the final in the metropolis.

The 2022 – 23 UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Inter will take place at Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium at 1900 GMT Saturday.

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