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Looking back at the Champions League final: How was it for a top footballer and ATPI?

Champions League Final

Champions League Final: Reminisce, learn, and keep growing

You spend months waiting for the Champions League final, one of the biggest sporting events in Europe. Months preparing for that one day when everything comes together. And when it’s all over, you can bask in the afterglow. Sounds great, right? It’s not entirely accurate though. A true professional doesn’t only focus on the present, they are also always looking to the future. We met up with former top footballer and Champions League winner, Frank de Boer, and Monique Koot, project manager at ATPI, about how you can be proud of your achievements while still looking ahead to ensure an even better result next time.

Not everyone gets to introduce themselves as a Champions League winner, Frank de Boer is one of the lucky few. But if you think he only has positive stories to tell about the final match between Ajax and AC Milan in 1995, you’d be wrong. The best match of his life? Not quite.

“When I think back to the 1995 Champions League final, strangely enough, I remember how badly we played that night! I rewatched the match a few years ago and I was really surprised. That team was able to play so beautifully but, in the final, all you can see is two teams trying hard not to lose,” Frank recalls. “When I look back as a player, it wasn’t a good football match. But, of course, for those of us on the pitch and for the fans, it was still a fantastic evening.”

It’s clear that, when it comes to the final, the win matters more than playing beautiful football. That’s certainly how Frank sees it: “It was 0-0 for a long time in that match and that made it even more exciting, the pressure builds and builds. It was only at the very end that Patrick Kluivert scored the winning goal. The euphoria you could feel flooding through the stadium was indescribably beautiful. A match like that is unforgettable, for the team, the players, the crew, the fans, and everyone involved.”

How can we do even better?

As wonderful as it is to end an event with a win, it doesn’t mean that the ATPI team can automatically relax.

“Although the event is over and the guests have returned home, our work isn’t over,” Monique explains. “There are always loose ends that need to be tied up afterward, admin that needs to be arranged, and we always make time for an evaluation.”

The evaluation is an essential step for ATPI and one that includes both clients and guests. As Monique reveals: “Firstly, we ask the guests for their reaction and opinions, and then we sit down with our clients. That way we can quickly get a clear picture of how the event went. We want to explore the clients’ experience, what was successful, and where we can make some adjustments. We can then map out what went well and where we can still improve.”

Evaluation is essential

You might think that a party would be at the top of your to-do list after winning the Champions League final. They do take time to celebrate but, according to Frank, footballers and coaches get to work fairly quickly after the match, analyzing and evaluating the team’s performance. For Frank, it’s the most professional approach.

“After the final, you’ll evaluate to find out what went well and what went wrong. Coaches are always trying to get the best out of their team and looking for things that can be improved, even after a win,” Frank explains. “To give you an example, I once played a match against Vitesse as a coach. We were already leading 2-0 when I decided to make some changes. They didn’t work out well; I’d drafted young guys who were eager to prove themselves and wanted to score but what the match really needed was guys who had control the play and calm it down. In the end, thanks to those wrong substitutions, we lost 2-3.

“I took that experience into my next competition. When we ended up in a similar situation against Utrecht, we won 4-0. That’s why evaluation is essential, you always find areas where you can improve and make progress.”

At ATPI, a post-event evaluation is a given.

“Thanks to our way of evaluation, including both the guest and client, we’re already one step ahead in our preparations for next year’s Champions League and we can immediately make improvements,” Monique agrees. “The goal is to organize even more beautiful events every year. Thanks to our evaluations, we can continue to learn and grow. It’s an indispensable part of our work.”

Champions League Final: Indelible memories

“Winning the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan is one of my best memories,” Frank confirms with a smile. “The fact that I could experience that moment alongside my brother Ronald was, of course, very special. It was important for our parents too, who sacrificed so much to give us the chance to become professional footballers. They would drive us back and forth to training six, sometimes seven, times a week, always putting football first, so to see them looking so proud was fantastic.

“What happened next, once we got home to Amsterdam, was also legendary. The ceremony, the cruise on the canals – it was an unprecedented public celebration. It’s only then that you see how everyone is affected by the win and that stays with you forever.”

Letting go, celebrating, and reflecting on a successful event is also part of the process at ATPI. As Monique explains: “Once the work is done and the clients are happy, we often organize a small after-party for the on-site team. It’s a nice release – it’s important to let things go for a while and recognize that you created something beautiful with your team. My work is only successful when I see that we’ve set up a beautiful event, that our guests have gone home feeling that they’ve experienced something special, and that we’ve made our clients happy. That makes me really proud.”

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