Luis Bolanos's ties with Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito run deep. The son of legendary Albos goalkeeper Adolfo Bolanos, the blossoming midfielder first pulled on the club's colours at the age of 12. Since then he has experienced many highs with the Ecuadorians, playing a full part in their crowning achievement, last season's Copa Libertadores success, which earned them a place at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008.
And as the build-up to the grand final against Manchester United continues, FIFA.com chatted to Bolanos about Sunday's game, the biggest in Liga de Quito's history. "We really are living a dream," said the 23-year-old of Liga's Japanese adventure. "We've reached the final of a world championship and we are more than ready for it."
Bolanos has belied his youth with some impressive performances in recent times, demonstrating an uncanny ability to help his team out at crucial moments. "The goals I scored in the Copa Libertadores played a decisive part in us winning the trophy, and here in Japan I was lucky enough to hit the target against Pachuca in the semi-finals," he continued. "And now I'm hoping to make another contribution by scoring again in the final."
As his coach Edgardo Bauza explained after Liga had clinched their place in the final, Bolanos's superb free-kick against the Mexicans came straight from the training ground. "We've been practising the move for four months and that was the first time it's come off. Fortunately for us, it couldn't have come at a better time."
The man who converted it is dreaming of springing a similar surprise on the European champions. "Set-pieces could decide who comes out on top in the final," he comments. "We scored from one of them and so did Manchester. You always need to have some set-plays up your sleeve and we hope to get the opportunity to use them on Sunday."
"This match will be totally different to the Copa Libertadores," he adds, aware of the unique challenge posed by taking on Manchester United with a major trophy at stake. "Both sides will be going all out for the win and to become the best side in the world. It's going to be something we've never experienced before, but we know what Manchester are all about. They are all great players but we have to know how to stop them and play as a unit. It's sure to be a tough, testing occasion."
Los Albos have earned the respect of their rivals thanks to some courageous performances and a desire to achieve new goals. And few players reflect the sterling work performed by Bauza better than Bolanos. "We are proud to be here," says the home-grown midfielder. "We are representing South America and just hope we can carry on all our recent good work in the final."
The Argentinian coach's greatest achievement has been to encourage his side to raise their game against supposedly superior opponents, and as Bolanos points out, the Ecuadorian overachievers are full of belief as a result. "My team-mates and I have been on a real high since we won the Copa Libertadores and we won't lack confidence when we walk out against United."
The tournament showpiece will be Bauza's last match in charge at Liga and Bolanos is anxious for him to exit with some Japanese silverware in his hand. "If we win, it will be a great way for Bauza to leave, for everything he has done for the club. He put his trust in me and I want to repay him for that out on the pitch."