ROME - Barcelona's Champions League triumph over Manchester United on Wednesday was down to bravery and hard work, said record-setting coach Pep Guardiola. "If you take the ball and you attack and you are daring you have more chances of winning," the 38-year-old former Barca player told a news conference. While Barcelona ended United's reign as European champions and their bid to be the first side to retain the trophy since AC Milan in 1990, Guardiola made some notable marks on the competition's record books himself. He became the third youngest coach to lift the European Cup in the 54 seasons of the competition and the youngest to do so for 49 years when Miguel Munoz led Real Madrid to their fifth successive title in 1960. He also became only the third man to play for and then manage the same club to victory after being in Barcelona's first European Cup winning team in 1992 and is the first manager to lead a Spanish club to a Treble after winning the domestic Cup and League double. Quite some achievement for a man who was still playing three years ago, but he was happy to concentrate on his player's achievements rather than his own. "We have not been cowards, never in the match. There's no other way. There's nothing more dangerous than not taking risks," he added. "We have worked many, many hours throughout the season and I know there are many people who are very happy and this is our payment." Guardiola, who has won the Spanish league and cup as well as the Champions League in his first season in charge, paid tribute to Lionel Messi, scorer of the second goal against United. He said one of the reasons for his side's domination of United for long periods was his decision to move the Argentine forward back into the middle. "Messi went back into midfield because we wanted to be superior in possession," Guardiola said. "Without the ball we are a disastrous team, a horrible team so we need the ball," he added. "We are not the best team in history but we have played the best season in history to win the three titles." Guardiola had a spell in Italy towards the end of his playing career and he dedicated Wednesday's victory to AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini, who is in his final season after a 24-year career. Maldini's final appearance at the San Siro on Sunday was marred by fans unveiling a banner criticising him. "I think 20 or 30 people can't spoil his last game of football (at home)," Guardiola said. "I am very happy to have won this trophy and I am very happy to dedicate it to the player who was by far the strongest of the past 20 years."
28 May 2009
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