Champions League: Gündogan's short night: "Rarely woke up so happy"

The morning after the wild title party on the Bosphorus, Ilkay Gündogan opened his tired eyes - and didn't immediately feel like a Champions League winner.

Champions League: Gündogan's short night: "Rarely woke up so happy"

The morning after the wild title party on the Bosphorus, Ilkay Gündogan opened his tired eyes - and didn't immediately feel like a Champions League winner.

"It took me a few moments to realize that it wasn't just a dream," said the Manchester City captain of the German Press Agency. But the around 200 congratulatory messages on his cell phone and the sweet memories of the hard-fought 1-0 (0-0) final victory in Istanbul against outsiders Inter Milan quickly brought the German international back to rosy reality.

"I've rarely woken up so happy in my life," said the 32-year-old: "The night was amazing – and of course it was pretty short." But the feelings of happiness about the first victory in his third premier class final drove away any tiredness. "Anyone who has followed my path knows how long I have been chasing this title." Just like his coach Pep Guardiola, who even had to wait twelve years for his third Champions League triumph. City's first victory in the most important club competition after many unsuccessful attempts is "a great relief for all of us," said Guardiola.

Extensive celebration

Accordingly, the Cityzens celebrated the triumph until the early hours of the morning. Exceptional striker Erling Haaland, who remained rather pale in the final, posted a picture of himself with a winning cigar on Instagram around 7 a.m. After returning on Sunday, the triple heroes are allowed to relax a little before continuing to celebrate with the fans at the trophy parade in Manchester on Monday evening.

Gündogan already had his big performance on the final lawn in the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. In the home of his parents and grandparents, of all places, he was allowed to lift the cup with a handle in the rain of confetti and to the emotional Champions League anthem in the night sky. "Perhaps", said Gündogan, "it was fate that we win here". Guardiola had a similar feeling: "This final was written in the stars."

"City ends its nightmare"

And this time he didn't coach it, the coach refrained from experiments like in the lost final two years ago against Chelsea. "City ends his nightmare, Guardiola his special drama," wrote the Spanish newspaper "AS".

In the hour of triumph, Guardiola showed no great emotions. Satisfaction that he silenced his critics? Proud that he was the first coach to lead two different clubs to the Champions League, league and national cup treble? None of that seemed so important to the former successful FC Barcelona coach. He is "incredibly satisfied" and feels "okay" - but supposedly not much more.

Guardiola was already thinking about the future. The coaching genius wants to shape an era in the premier class with the Cityzens. There are Champions League winners who quickly disappeared from the scene, "anyone who knows me knows that doesn't happen," said Guardiola aggressively. With obvious irony, he also sent a challenge to record winners Real Madrid, who have won the most important club competition 14 times. "Be careful Real Madrid because we're on to you."

The expectations of the owners from Abu Dhabi, who have invested an estimated two billion euros in transfers since joining in 2008, are clear. City boss Khaldoon al-Mubarak told him immediately after the final whistle that the final would take place in London next year, Guardiola reported with a smile: "I'd rather not tell him my answer, it was inappropriate." The owners around Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who paid one of his very rare visits to the team in Istanbul, are the main reason for City's success, said Guardiola: "Without them we wouldn't be here."

Gündogan future open

Whether Gündogan will help shape the planned era remains to be seen. In view of the recent finals in the FA Cup and in the Champions League, he pushed the issue of his expiring contract “a bit aside”, “but now I have to deal with it”. His German team-mate Stefan Ortega, who can now also call himself a Champions League winner as a substitute goalkeeper, hopes that Gündogan will stay in Manchester: "This boy is unbelievable."

Gündogan also showed respect for the Milanese, whom he encouraged on the pitch. But that didn't comfort his national team colleague Robin Gosens either. The Inter professional admitted that he felt "totally crappy": "A childhood dream just burst." A "shit goal" by Rodrigo (68th), according to Gosens, made the difference between two equally strong teams. Or as the newspaper "La Repubblica" put it: Inter "locked the lion in a cage for almost 70 minutes" but were "eaten" at a careless moment.

Gosens almost became a final hero for the Italian cup winners. But his cross twelve minutes after his substitution did not lead to a late equalizer because striker Romelu Lukaku was unable to head the ball into the goal (88th). Lukaku was racially abused in the worst possible way on social media after the game.