Nicknamed The Pride of Wales and The Italian Dragon, Joe Calzaghe will be combining home with his boyhood club this coming Saturday as Cardiff hosts the Champions League Final.
The Southpaw fighter has previously fought at the then-named Millennium Stadium back in 2007, when Calzaghe defeated Mikkel Kessler in front of 50,000 spectators; this coming final might just top that.
“For it to be at the national stadium where I boxed 10 years ago against Mikkel Kessler, you can’t make it up.
“So to be in a final at the stadium that means so much to me, in my hometown, is incredible. But we’ve got to win it! We don’t have the best record in finals.” — Joe Calzaghe
Although the undefeated middleweight champion was born in Hammersmith, he has an Italian father, Enzo, and Welsh mother, Jackie.
His father has always supported the Old Lady, and passed Juve down to Joe; who opted against supporting local side Cardiff City when he moved to the city at the age of two.
As the retired boxer touched upon, Juve haven’t experienced great success in finals, losing 3-1 to Barcelona back in 2015 in the same tournament.
But, the Italians go into the final in outstanding form having already won two trophies this season. The added confidence booster of not conceding a single goal to Barcelona over two legs in the quarter-final should give Calzaghe reason to be optimistic.
Ironically, the man to spoil the party could be a fellow Welshman in Gareth Bale:
“I love Gareth Bale but just this once, please, don’t do it! You’ve got plenty more tournaments to win. You had the Champions League last year, so don’t be greedy.” — Joe Calzaghe
Bale’s experienced an indifferent season in the Spanish capital, having been sidelined for much of the season and restricted to just 19 appearances. Nevertheless, still a world-class talent who has previously quickly regained his match fitness this season, and will be motivated to become the sixth person to win the Champions League in his hometown.