Clarence Seedorf on Istanbul HEARTBREAK and what it takes to win FOUR Champions League titles

  /  autty

If Pep Guardiola or Simone Inzaghi want any tips on how to lift the Champions League on Saturday, they could do a lot worse than ask one certain former Dutch footballer.

After breaking through with Ajax at 16 where he became their youngest ever player, Clarence Seedorf went on to become one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.

He is arguably the most decorated Dutch star of all-time, having won 18 titles in his career across four different countries.

Within that magnificent record, this is a man who has secured four Champions League titles and is the first and only player to have won the prestigious competition with three different clubs.

Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 1998 and AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 were the four occasions the complete and hugely popular midfielder lifted the highest honour in European football.

Seedorf is not averse to completing a Treble either - a feat Manchester City will be desperate to conquer in Istanbul on Saturday and one that Inter Milan achieved back in 2010 - having done so with Ajax domestically in the 1993-94 season.

Despite all of these achievements, he remains as humble as ever, insisting there is no particular secret for his successes.

'I'm always proud of my achievements that I made with my teammates for the clubs I played for,' Seedorf - who has partnered with FedEx Express - exclusively told Mail Sport.

'It's a great feeling. Having done it with different teams too that is really where some of the elements of my input may have been decisive.

'Focusing on keeping the team together, keeping the focus, pushing everybody and yourself to be the best you can be and then knowing how to step up in games when you're growing into the tournament.

'I think those were important elements to have individually but also as a team in my career.'

The vast majority of elite players fail to ever lift a Champions League in their career, let alone four, which highlights the magnitude of Seedorf's achievement.

Having done so with different clubs and teammates on three occasions, Mail Sport posed the question of whether one stood out over another.

'No! You can't have a favourite,' Seedorf quipped. 'It's like having four kids and you don't choose between your kids.

'They all have a different story behind and they're all wonderful.'

Saturday night's showpiece event at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul is the second occasion the venue will have hosted a Champions League final.

The last time came back in 2005, when Liverpool miraculously bounced back from a 3-0 deficit at half-time against AC Milan to take the game to penalties.

Rafa Benitez's side emerged victorious 3-2 on spot kicks thanks to some penalty-saving heroics from the spirited Jerzy Dudek.

Seedorf was part of the legendary AC Milan side that suffered heartbreak, before going onto avenge the loss by beating Liverpool 2-1 in Athens two years later in the final.

Understandably, the Dutchman must have mixed memories of Istanbul, but he was philosophical when reflecting on what went on in 2005.

'I think you guys (British media) like to rub it in,' he joked.

'In Istanbul I have great memories despite that final. Turkey is a footballing country, we are in an amazing city with amazing stadiums and yeah, we had that experience, but I have to say that it is part of sport right?

'You can always win but being in a final it's always so difficult, so those teams that get there need to be really proud of the achievement.'

With 125 appearances in the competition and all the aforementioned success, you would be hard pressed to find a more qualified person to comment on what it takes in Champions League finals.

Inter are one of Seedorf's former clubs, with the midfielder moving to their great rivals AC in a swap deal Francesco Coco in 2002.

In a sign of his popularity, he remains on good terms with the Inter fanbase and some of his former teammates despite going on to play 432 times for AC during a trophy-laden 10 years.

In some quarters it has been viewed as a formality that the Italian side will pose no challenge for City, but Seedorf wasn't so sure and warned of the perils of underestimating Inzaghi's plucky outfit.

He said: 'It's not going to be as straightforward as people are thinking that City are going to run over Inter Milan.

'I don't think that is going to happen. Inter are in a good place and Italian teams are always very difficult to play.

'City are amazing at the moment as well so they are a big favourites, but looking at the history of Inter, the club comes with some baggage in the competition so they have to be respected!'

FedEx Express, an official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, has revealed four giant cardboard sculptures memorialising iconic UEFA Champions League final moments. Sculptures of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard, and Gareth Bale have gone on show outside the Ataturk Olympic Stadium ahead of the Champions League final.

The Champions Unboxed activation captures the players' legendary Champions League historical memories. The sculptures are constructed entirely from recycled FedEx Express cardboard boxes.

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