Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1231, (29 January - 4 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Cairo crowned with English silverware

The Barclays Trophy, borne by former Arsenal icon Robert Pires, is wintering in Cairo, Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

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sp2
Al-Ahram Weekly

Five years after they last brought the trophy to Egypt in 2009, the Barclays Premiere League. Sharing your precious collection is always a tough decision, yet the English Premiere League — sponsored by Barclays Banks — is bringing its most precious treasure for Egyptians to look at.

Sponsoring the prestigious English Premier League since 2001, Barclays bank has definitely built strong ties with the English Football Association (FA), as a result of supporting the strongest and most watched football league in the world. That is why the FA decided to reward their loyal sponsor by handing it the Premiere League trophy, now known as the Barclays Trophy, to show off across the world.

 

 

The trophy’s visit marks 133 years of football in Egypt, with the first official match dating to 1882, when the Egyptian national team played against the the British occupation team and won 2-nil. The celebration also marks 150 years since Barclays Bank first opened in Egypt.  

Organisers were careful to bring over one of the greatest Premier League icons, Robert Pires, who won the trophy not once but twice. Albeit a Frenchman, Pires came here to speak about his experience being lucky enough to touch the magnificent trophy as a player in 2002, and again in 2004, with his club Arsenal.

A ceremony held at the Intercontinental City Stars Hotel was the main appearance of the trophy and Pires, and sports’ celebrities from across Egypt were invited to share this remarkable moment. They included national team and former Werder Bremen star Hani Ramzi, journalists Hassan El-Mestekawi and Yasser Ayoub, and former Zamalek captain Khaled El-Ghandour.

Festivities started with two British gentlemen in white gloves marching the trophy to the podium while the English Premier League anthem was playing. The trophy is to be touched by no hand except that of the winning players, that is why even its guards must be gloved.

Ayoub presented the event, stressing British-Egyptian sports relations, then Ramzi went on stage with Pires to interview him. “I had great times playing in France for Metz and Marseille, winning the coup de la league with the first,” Pires said. “However it was special playing for Arsenal in London, and getting the chance to win this historical trophy was definitely the best moment in my whole career besides winning the FIFA World Cup with France in 1998.”

Pires is still playing football, for the Indian club FC Goa, which he might continue with for another year, he said. “After I retire from football, I believe I will be looking to get out of the stressful dilemma, so I won’t work as a coach, I will work as a football expert for one of the sports channels,” he announced.

The invitees then had the chance to take personal pictures with the trophy and Pires, to document this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

With the arrival of such a treasured trophy that represents the glory and history of the oldest football league in the world; Egypt spreads the hymns of peace to the whole world, calling everyone to jump in spreading values and respect through sports.


Trophy facts

The English FA actually holds two Premier League trophies, just in case two teams end up with the same points at the end of the season. While one is held by the team that won last season, which is Manchester City, the other is free to travel the world in its unique  structure and ribbons that represent the colours of the team that holds it. The  trophy is created by the Royal Jewellers, Aspery of London, with a golden crown on top and two lions on each side, leaving space for the centre lion, representing the captain of the crowned team. The main body is made of sterling silver and the plinth of green malachite, representing the field. The stone is surrounded by a silver band that carries the names of the teams who won it through history. Manchester United are the most crowned, with 13 titles in their trophy cabinet.    


The writer is a freelance journalist.

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