Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Manchester United’s participation as the first English team to play UEFA’s European club competition, Manchester United will face all-star Europe XI team to be coached by Italian World Cup winner Marcello Lippi. Confirmed players in the European team are Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, Olympique Lyonnais players Eric Abidal, Grégory Coupet and Juninho Pernambucano, top players from Barcelona Carles Puyol, Gianluca Zambrotta, Lilian Thuram and Ronaldinho, and Real Madrid start Ronaldo.
The European Commission will join with UEFA and Manchester United in organising the event. Lending his personal support to the initiative, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: “The best of European football will be on show at the “Theatre of Dreams” in Manchester next March, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the European Union. There is no better way to showcase the European Union at 50 than through Europe’s favourite sport that unites Europeans in a unique way, through a passion we all share and a language we all speak.”
The Europe XI squad for the match currently includes Olivier Kahn, Grégory Coupet, Iker Casillas, Paolo Maldini, Jamie Carragher, Eric Abidal, Lilan Thuram, Carles Puyol, Marco Materazzi, Fabio Grosso, Gianluca Zambrotta, Steven Gerrard, Juninho Pernambucano, Florent Malouda, Luis Miguel, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Alessandro Mancini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson.
All proceeds from the event will go to charity.
25th March 2007 will mark the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome that founded the modern-day European Union. Fittingly it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first time an English club entered European football club competitions under the auspices of European Football’s governing body, UEFA.