Elber ahead of the Bayern-Lyon game: "It was mad, it was pure emotion"
It's Bayern against Lyon on Wednesday evening for a place in this year's Champions League final. It's a fixture that's created a number of special moments in the past, such as on 5 November 2003 when the sides met at the Olympiastadion in the group stage.
Among the visiting party that day was Giovane Elber, who had swapped Munich for Lyon only a few months earlier. Juninho had put the French side ahead inside six minutes with a lovely free-kick, before Roy Makaay equalised only eight minutes later. The unforgettable moment came, however, early in the second half when Elber restored the visitors' lead. Despite the threat of defeat, almost everyone inside the Olympiastadion cheered their former striker. Bayern did go on to lose 2-1 but progressed to the next stage as group runners-up. Ahead of the 2019/20 semi-final between his former clubs, Elber spoke to fcbayern.com about that extraordinary moment.
Interview with Giovane Elber
Giovane, two of your former clubs meet on Wednesday when Bayern face Lyon. That's surely a special fixture for you?
Elber: "When Bayern aren't playing Lyon, I like to watch the team and keep my fingers crossed for them. I know how much work is behind the fact that they have now reached the semi-finals. It all started when I moved there in 2003. Lyon won their third title that season and reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time – that was their greatest success for a long time. It's interesting that they're in the semi-finals now."
Shortly after your move, you came up against Bayern in the group stage. You scored the winner in the 2-1 victory in Munich. What was that like for you?
Elber: "Honestly, it already felt strange before the game. A few weeks earlier, I was still playing alongside Bayern players and had beaten Hamburg [2-0 on 24 August 2003]. Then I returned home, back then the Olympiastadion, in the Champions League, and you have no idea what's going to happen. Then I made it 2-1. We were top of the group at the time with Bayern not far behind, but the fans still cheered me and called my name. I thought, 'wow, you did achieve something for this club'. I'd never expected to be so accepted."
Certainly an emotional moment, right?
Elber: "Yes, I started to cry. I think that's normal and fine. I spent six years at Bayern – six great years."
Do emotions get the better of you in moments like that?
Elber: "It's like a film where you can't write the script in advance. Everything since I joined in 1997 went through my mind in that short time: the lost 1999 Champions League final, the 2001 win in Milan and so on. It all happened at once. It was mad, it was pure emotion. And there was nothing I could do, I was paralysed."
That surely moves even an experienced player like you?
Elber: "Yes, that's right. That day I saw the standing I had among Bayern fans. You only really realise that once you're gone. While you're there, you notice it to a certain extent, but it's different. On that day, I returned as an opponent and was loved – even more loved. That's incredible."
Take a look back at all of Bayern's previous encounters with Lyon, including Elber's return:
Have you spoken to anyone at Lyon ahead of Wednesday's semi-final?
Elber: "The last time I spoke to people at Lyon was after the Champions League draw and we knew who could face who in the rest of the competition. I had a short phone call with Juninho, who's now the sporting director and was once my teammate, and joked saying, 'Watch out, if you win and we win then we'll play each other'. I don't think anyone at Lyon expected it to happen. They beat Juventus, they beat Manchester City – but that wasn't luck, they can play really good football. We have to be careful and be prepared for everything."
Where does your heart lie on Wednesday?
Elber: "My fingers are firmly crossed for Bayern so we can play in a final again."