As our players walked out at Emirates Stadium to kick off their Champions League campaign last month, a hush of anticipation descended around the ground as the teams lined up before kick-off.
Then suddenly, a symphony of violins flowed through the rain-sodden sky, punctuated by the piping of trumpets and the boom of a double bass. A choir cried Die Meister / Die Besten / Les grandes équipes, followed by the two words that send tingles down players' and supporters’ spines: The champions.
The Champions League anthem had made a welcome return to our home, a familiar but much-missed addition to our European matchdays. For the younger generation of Gooners, it was a first experience of the legendary piece of music’s impact, and the emotion it stirs was certainly felt by their contemporaries on the field.
Leandro Trossard smirked, Declan Rice grinned, Bukayo Saka refocused. For those and more, it signalled their invitation to step up onto the biggest stage club football offers, as well as hand them validation of their qualities.
As a seasoned veteran in the competition, Jorginho knew exactly what they were feeling. You might expect the anthem’s effects to have eroded on him, but he admits that it still conjures up the same feelings now as when he was in Leandro, Declan and Bukayo’s boots when he made his Champions League bow at Napoli in 2014.
“It’s iconic, it’s so remarkable. It was stuck in our heads when we were kids so you just kind of go back to your childhood when you listen to it,” he smiled.
“It seems so far away when you’re a kid to play in, and that’s why I think it’s really special. I was in Brazil as a little kid watching every single game of the Champions League, watching Barcelona, Milan and Arsenal with the ball, and the music. It’s a competition the whole world stops to watch, so to be here now, we are living our dreams.
“I could see a lot of excitement for the PSV game and I could feel the emotional side of it as well. They were excited to hear the music, and even in training when we trained for the first time with the Champions League ball. They couldn’t wait any more.
“It was nice to see the boys achieving these dreams in their lives. It’s always amazing to see and I’m really pleased that I was there with them.”
The competition has made its mark on our Italian midfielder - quite literally. He has the trophy tattooed on his right tricep to mark winning it with Chelsea back in 2021, when Kai Havertz’s goal sealed the silverware and the completion of another childhood ambition.
“When you hold that trophy, so, so many things are going through your head,” Jorginho reflected. “It’s impossible to explain, it’s just an amazing feeling.
“That’s living your actual dream, going back to when you were a child and watching your idols playing and winning.”
Having been a part of a group that has tasted Champions League glory, Jorginho is perfectly placed to evaluate what a squad needs to go all the way.
Despite us having many young players who are set to experience the thrills, spills, highs and lows of taking on the best the continent has to offer, he feels we boast many of the same similarities that Chelsea squad possessed three years ago when their ribbons were tied to the silverware.
“For sure you need togetherness, as well as passion and belief in each other,” he said. “When you know that everyone has each other’s backs, that’s really important.
“With the group that we have, the energy that we have around the group, the team and the staff are all together. Togetherness is something that is really important for every team. That’s when something special can happen.
“We need to enjoy every single game, and give everything we can. Then at the end, we can see what we get, but the most important thing is to enjoy every single moment because it’s going to be special in our lives.”
So if we managed to get our hands on the trophy at Wembley next summer, would he be tempted to add a new piece of ink to his arm? “Maybe I can add the dates!” he laughs.
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