It was a week of much celebration and autograph signing. In Romania, the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy was received by Gica Popescu, one of the most famous footballers in the country. The defender, who participated in three FIFA World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998), also brought his son to see the most cherished prize in football. “I’ve never been so close to the trophy. This is very nice for a football player and it’s important to the Romanian people”, he told FIFA.com. “Even for me it was very emotional when I saw it for the first time. I’m very happy to be part of this event.”
Football fans also had their chance to take photos with the Trophy. The event took place at the famous ‘Sala Palatului’ (The Palace Hall), a conference centre and concert hall behind the National Museum of Art of Romania, which is a former royal palace. Fans of all ages waited anxiously in line for an opportunity to relive previous FIFA World Cups, play a little football and smile beside the 18-carat gold Trophy which the next champions will take home.
In Greece, the celebration began at the airport. After a brief ceremony at arrivals, Giorgos Karagounis, captain of the national team, uncovered the trophy to the public. The midfielder currently plays for Panathinaikos and is best remembered for scoring the first goal of UEFA EURO 2004, helping his team win the opening game and consequently emerge as champions.
He was joined by Takis Fyssas, a former Greek international footballer and currently technical director of the Hellenic Football Federation, and by football legend Roger Milla, the first African player to become a major star on the international stage. He played in three FIFA World Cups for the Cameroon national team and achieved stardom at 38 by scoring four goals at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. “I’m delighted to be in Athens, it’s my sixth time here, and I feel deep emotion about this country,” he said.
Before the public event, the FIFA World Cup Trophy was exhibited for the patients at the Children’s Hospital Aglaia Kyriakou, a national centre for cancer treatment. Dozens of boys and girls had fun while playing with Zakumi, the mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. In the farewell from Greece, thousands of fans gathered at the Olympic Athletic Center of Athens, the main venue for the Games in 2004.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour now heads to Turkey for the final stop in Europe.