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Saitama: Captain Yuki Abe hailed the impact of the Urawa Red Diamonds class of 2007 who turned out to support the 2017 generation on to their AFC Champions League final victory on Saturday.

A decade ago, Abe was in the line-up alongside the likes of Yuichiro Nagai, Robson Ponte and Keita Suzuki as Urawa defeated IR Iran's Sepahan 3-1 on aggregate to lift Japan's first AFC Champions League.

And it was he, this time as captain, who lifted the Saitama club's second continental title high into the night's sky after a 1-0 win over Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia secured a 2-1 aggregate victory.

"I was so happy 10 years ago and I’m so happy this time too," said a delighted Abe, who is in his second spell at the club after a stint at Leicester City.

"The whole team fought really together to achieve this - I'm just so happy we've become Asian champions for a second time."

While midfielder-turned-defender Abe is the only member of the playing staff who started both the 2007 and 2017 AFC Champions League finals, Tadaaki Hirakawa remains in the squad and Satoshi Horinouchi among the coaching staff.

In addition, there was a number of the 2007 squad who turned up at Saitama Stadium on Saturday to add their well wishes and support.

Support, that Abe believes, was vital in fostering the unity the team had felt in the competition's climax.

"So many people came to the ground like Nagai and of course Hori-san (Satoshi Horinouchi); Ponte told me he was coming to the stadium too," said Abe.

"Having those people the same age as me – Tulio, as well, and Keita (Suzuki), (Takahito) Soma – having all of you here giving us power made this possible."

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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