It has been a tear-filled goodbye tour for one of soccer’s greatest and most iconic stadiums. The Vicente Calderón has seen many things, but above all, it was the home of Atletíco Madrid’s notoriously passionate fans. Over the weekend the last official competitive match was played at the stadium and the only unfortunate thing about the affair was that Atletí was not involved. Thankfully the Copa Del Rey Final was a swan song worthy of the Calderón’s children and it’s aura. Played between the Basque minnows of Alaves and the Catalan giants of Barcelona, the match, from beginning to end was special. Now when we say beginning we literally mean in the pubs or streets outside of the stadium hours before the match. The crescendo from calm, somewhat desolate to the increasing congregation of fans, beers, songs….the beautiful camaraderie that makes soccer unlike anything else on the planet, sport or otherwise. We were lucky on many levels as we got to see the brilliance of an in-form Messi, the aging beauty that was the Calderón and possibly the greatest fans we’ve ever witnessed in the flesh. Yes, Messi was near perfection as ever and the Blaugrana were in full force, but the undying endeavor of Alaves on the pitch was only paralleled by their beautifully relentless fans. It was as if they had won, not a single one of them left the stadium, instead, they rocked the withering stadium to its boundaries even an hour after the trophy celebration.
Lastly, massive thanks to the good people at Hummel for being such gracious hosts on this amazing trip and experience.
All inside stadium shots courtesy of Lino at revistalibero.com