It’s not every day that we get a chance to watch the Champions League Final live at the stadium. Apparently 2017 is my lucky year because here I was in Cardiff with my brother and nephew, getting ready to watch Real Madrid vs. Juventus. Dam I must I’m lucky to be in Cardiff. I was going to see CRACKS such as Ronaldo, Buffon, Sergio Ramos, Dybala, Modric, and Gonzalo Higuain.
My brother and nephew are hardcore Real Madrid fans, not the fake kind that just likes a team because of a certain player or in the pursuit of glory hunting. Real fans that are with their teams during the highs and lows, consistent and loyal regardless of the circumstances. My brother and nephew traveled from Los Angeles to Cardiff, Wales, just to watch the game. They arrived 1 ½ days before and left the 24 hours after the game ended. Crack status without a doubt. And I’m certain they were not the only ones. In fact, I met a chap on the train from Bristol to Cardiff from the Los Angeles Valley, flew in as well just to watch his beloved Juventus. He too is Crack Status. A pity we didn’t exchange information.
The day of the match Cardiff was buzzing. The city center was fortified by security and law enforcement, not cars allowed in or out. The only way of getting into the city was either by foot, rail or horseback. It was like they created a haven for soccer fans; and it was awesome! The streets were cluttered with vertical black and white jerseys (Juventus) and white or purple jerseys (Real Madrid). People were chanting, drinking, screaming, partying, laughing, smiling, it was a festival and I was drinking every drop of the atmosphere.
Since we are all Real Madrid fans, we decided to go to two bars, Eleven Bar owned by Gareth Bale and Revolucion, literally next to Bale’s bar. Upon walking into bar I thought I was teleported into a Madrid bar near the infamous Cibeles Statue. The fans were going bananas drinking their pints and singing the Real Madrid chants. The one I’ll never forget and sang constantly was one of loyalty and affection; Como ne to voy a querer! Translation: How am I not going to love you! Well, Real Madrid definitely gave the fans another reason to love them.
We all know what happened during the game. A beat down was inflicted on Juventus by the hegemon Real Madrid. Real Madrid today is in another sphere and that cannot be disputed by anybody, even Barcelona fans. However, as much as I’ll remember being at the stadium and seeing soccer gods play on the pitch, I left Cardiff with a more surprising unforgettable memory, and it is not the players, it was more so the fans. Both Real Madrid and Juventus fans. There was no violence, no hostilities, no nonsense, just a space where fans expressed their love for their teams, and hoping to God that there team will bring home the most prestigious club trophy in the world. I saw love, I saw loyalty, I saw a symbiotic relationship between club and the individual. And it was beautiful ; and pardon the cliché, it was beautiful just like the game. So while I was on the plane back to Los Angeles, I realized that we fans are Cracks, real fans for their teams are just as Cracks as players, probably more so because we don’t get paid to support a club, our own compensation is the glee and ecstasy our club gives us when they win. So yes, I agree with Real Madrid, but I’ll change the lyrics a bit and sing my ode to soccer, and sing it with gusto…Como no te voy a querer, Como ne te voy a querer…