Al-Khelaïfi on Psg Reaching the Champions League Final and Reflecting on His Nine Years as President

As Paris Saint-Germain celebrates their 50th anniversary, they’ll be releasing a magazine to commemorate the milestone.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi took some time to talk to the magazine about the capital club reaching the UEFA Champions League final for their first time in their history and reflect on his nine years as president of Les Parisiens

“First of all, I also said to myself that it was really very special to see the club find themselves in the final just as they reached the milestone of 50 years. That Paris Saint-Germain is experiencing a Champions League final for the first time at such a time in its history, it is a symbol that touched me a lot,” Al-Khelaïfi said.

“I also thought about the enormous work accomplished since our arrival at the head of the club in 2011. During these nine years, I wanted a PSG capable of looking eye to eye at the biggest clubs in the world. We had already achieved this before this final in Lisbon, but we have now entered another category.”

The next question that Al-Khelaïfi answered was over the most satisfying moment of his presidency, which was seeing the squad reach their first Champions League final. 

“Yes, we can say that. To be fair, a lot of emotions mixed when seeing PSG reach the Champions League final. It’s a special feeling to be in the final. I felt very proud of the team, which performed a great deal. Unfortunately, we were unlucky in this close game against Bayern. It played out very little. Of course, everyone was sad about the result but the work to make it to the final was really fantastic,” Al-Khelaïfi said.

“On the night of the game, I also thought about what we have all been going through for the past six months, about this pandemic which has claimed so many victims and which is changing our lives. I have said it before and I will say it again, the real heroes of this year 2020, it is healthcare workers around the world and all these people on the front line to deal with the tragedies caused by this health crisis. I dedicate our journey in the Champions League to them.”

Al-Khelaïfi then touched on the enthusiasm that he felt seeing Paris’s supporters celebrate after each victory that ultimately had them heading the final. 

“It was fantastic to feel all this passion behind the team! In fact, they weren’t in Lisbon, but it’s as if they were there with us. We contested this final tournament by taking the soul of the Parc des Princes with us. A key moment of our season will remain the return match against Dortmund (2-0, March 11),” Al-Khelaïfi said. “That evening, the Park was empty, but it was full outside, in a way… For me, an unforgettable moment was the arrival of the players at the stadium when the bus was escorted by the chants and smoke from supporters. It gave our players a lot of strength.” 

“This created a dynamic until Lisbon, where we had to adapt to the particular context of these matches behind closed doors. From the bottom of my heart, I extend a big thank you to our supporters, in Paris, in France and around the world: their love gave fabulous energy to the whole team to go for the first time to the final of a Champions League,” Al-Khelaïfi said. “You know, that’s it, a great club: a great team with great supporters. Our success is also theirs, because they have always been there for the club, even during the very difficult years leading up to our arrival.”

“Without the public, without these millions and millions of supporters, football would not be what it is. Neither the players nor ourselves, the leaders, should forget this. even in the very difficult years leading up to our arrival,” Al-Khelaïfi said. “Without the public, without these millions and millions of supporters, football would not be what it is. Neither the players nor ourselves, the leaders, should forget this. even in the very difficult years leading up to our arrival. Without the public, without these millions and millions of supporters, football would not be what it is. Neither the players nor ourselves, the leaders, should forget this.”

Despite the loss, the 46-year-old did put this milestone high on the club’s map of achievements, and he understands that they’re heading in the right direction. 

“This is a major moment, which reinforces the idea that the club has become extremely competitive. I know we are moving in the right direction, Al-Khelaïfi said. “But we still have a lot of things to accomplish to reach the full potential of our project. Even before this final in Lisbon, the work done by Paris Saint-Germain was already unique in the world, especially over such a short period. But, I insist on this point, we can go much further.

Finally, Al-Khelaïfi did some reflecting on his predecessors as the club is celebrating their 50th anniversary, and while under his watch, PSG has begun to hit new levels of success. 

“I salute them all and I express to them here all my gratitude for the extraordinary work they have done. Some created the club, like Guy Crescent and Henri Patrelle; others gave it a new dynamic, such as Daniel Hechter. Others have made it a popular club, such as Francis Borelli. After him, in the 1990s, Canal + modernized the club and allowed it to live great hours on the European scene at the time of Michel Denisot. Closer to me in time, I am thinking of a president like Alain Cayzac. For thirty-five years, he has been a great fan of PSG and I always take great pleasure in interacting with him, especially when we meet during the Board of Directors of the Foundation,” Al-Khelaïfi said.

“So, for me, it’s obvious to say that without the 460 players, without all the coaches and managers who have come through PSG, this great journey in the Champions League would never have been possible. And it would not have been possible either without the work of all the collaborators spent during all these years in the various services of the club with the ambition, each in their profession, to make it grow. I thank them all. And I tell them: 50 years old or not, compared to a lot of other clubs, we will always be the youngest, and that’s a great thing! Let’s stay young forever.”

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