Why Guardiola’s video before Champions League final left Barca stars in tears
After Andres Iniesta’s long-range strike had broken Chelsea hearts and sent Barcelona into the 2009 Champions League final, Pep Guardiola tapped out a text message.
"I need your help to win the Champions League," he wrote before sending it to friend and journalist Santi Padro.
His brief was to produce a motivational video using the music from Gladiator which would be shown before the final against Manchester United in Rome.
The finished film featured each squad member and was previewed by Guardiola’s backroom staff the night before the game.
"As soon as I saw it I honestly knew we’d win the Champions League final," recalls former kit man Chema Corbella in Take the Ball, Pass the Ball , a new documentary about Guardiola’s Barcelona reign.
Twenty four hours later, the Nou Camp boss unleashed the seven-minute video on his unsuspecting players.
"The boss was very sentimental," says former goalkeeper Victor Valdes. "After warming up I went to the dressing room and was told I couldn’t come in; they told me the boss was preparing something.
"When we finally got in we had no time to prepare properly and it was sweltering hot. Then he showed us the video that had all of us in tears."
Thierry Henry, who joined Barcelona from Arsenal , remembers: "We didn’t know what was happening; we went inside and there was a screen and Pep asked us to stand in front of it and we waited.
"With the music of Gladiator we saw the whole journey to the final; the sad moments, the good moments, the struggles.
"It was so powerful… I would say also it was too powerful! After the video he said, ‘Guys, at the end of the game I want people to say we can play football. Have a good game’."
Barcelona were without the suspended Dani Alves and Eric Abidal and the injured Rafael Marquez while Henry and Iniesta carried knocks into the final.
But the Spanish side triumphed 2-0 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, even if Guardiola’s video almost backfired.
"As a motivational tool the idea was a total disaster," laughs Manuel Estiarte, a member of Guardiola’s backroom staff. "In the opening 10 minutes, if it wasn’t for Victor… they’d have scored twice."
Valdes himself agrees: "We went out on to the pitch and Andrea Bocelli was singing which almost set us off again. Manchester United must have wondered what was wrong with us, we were in pieces."
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had knocked out Inter, Porto and Arsenal to reach their second successive final following their penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea 12 months earlier.
But Michael Carrick admits United were second best – at least after the opening stages.
"We went into that game believing we had a great chance of winning," he says. "The first 10-15 minutes we started really well, then out of nowhere I’ve headed one down into midfield, Iniesta picked it up, made a little run and all of a sudden Eto’o scores and we’re one down.
"Maybe from that minute on, that’s what they needed, to take a deep breath and just get the ball and start passing and sucking the life out of us.
"The quality they had on the night was too good for us. That was the one that hurt the most, it took me some time to get over that."
Barcelona’s victory secured Guardiola the treble in his first season in charge.
"We knew we’d win the game because Pep told us we’d win," says Dani Alves. "Pep is a genius; he’d tell us exactly what we needed to do in order to win."
Take The Ball, Pass The Ball is out now in OurScreen cinemas and on DVD & Download from November 12
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