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Frenchman says he was stunned when Barca captain Carles Puyol asked him to be the first to receive the Champions League trophy after the win

Barcelona's Eric Abidal has admitted that he was overcome with emotion after club captain Carles Puyol handed him the armband and invited him to lift the Champions League trophy following their 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday evening.

The 31-year-old said he was left speechless at the gesture from the Barca skipper.

"I can’t explain the emotions I have," Abidal told reporters after the match. "It's spectacular. I'm so thankful for the gesture."

The Frenchman was thought to have only a slight chance of playing in the final, having recently recovered from surgery to remove a tumour in his liver.

Following the operation, Abidal returned as a late substitute to a rapturous reception in the Champions League semi-final second leg at Camp Nou when Barca completed a 3-1 aggregate win over bitter rivals Real Madrid to reach the final.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola also praised his captain's gesture, which he said makes the club a stronger family.

"I want to thank Carles publicly for the gesture," he said.

"It's another demonstration of the sort of club I understand we are and showcases the human qualities of the dressing room."

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