Our man in Madrid gives all the insight about his journey, including the locals, the fan parks and the game itself!
By David Haycocks – @DavidHaycocks2
I am a very lucky man.
I managed to attend every Liverpool home game during our Champions League campaign this season, and at Anfield it started with the dramatic PSG win and ended with the sensational swatting of Barcelona.
Upon arrival in Madrid for the final, it was all smiles and eager anticipation from the travelling Reds fans. There was a sense of positive optimism among our supporters and rightfully so – our team had earned it after a spectacular title challenge in which they fell painfully short.
My first encounter with the local people in Madrid was in Barajas with a man called Sergio. He was such a gentleman to my family as he took time out of his day to help us explore the city.
Instead of charging head-on towards the centre, we put some money into the local community of Barajas first and attempted to converse with the locals. Communicating verbally was a challenge on each side but we all had a laugh and that is all that matters.
The people of Madrid were so welcoming to us. It was a pleasure to be among the people and their friendly family culture. The only somewhat negative thing I will say about these independent establishments is I won’t be eating tapas for a while – I’m sick of the sight of it!
After exploring our neck of the woods we ventured towards the Santiago Bernabeu where we encountered some Spurs fan in the Real Bar. They were great lads and were full of good, honest footballing knowledge.
It was great to see a Tottenham perspective but we ended our night in the LFC fan zone and it was insatiable. The atmosphere was incredible and some unreal scenes of celebration on the Red side of Madrid. I was just delighted to be a part of it.
Finally, the day we were all waiting for and what a day it turned out to be in the end, we got up and out early then headed to the fan park where the numbers had quadrupled. There was literally no space to move in there so, after a while, we walked straight through and made our way to the ground.
The celebrations continued as we took refuge in Bar La Criba, which was about a 30-minute walk from the Wanda Metropolitano. After some drinks and an unpredictable serving of (you guessed it) tapas, we headed to the stadium.
Inside it was beautiful, modern and a real spectacle. Up to the point I walked in I didn’t feel any nerves but then the anticipation started to rise and, before I knew it the whistle sounded, and the game kicked off.
Seconds later I – along with thousands of travelling Reds – was celebrating a penalty and Salah finally got his Champions League Final ‘MOment’ (sorry). After he converted the atmosphere was surreal and it was as if we brought Anfield with us across the continent!
The second half was so intense. The songs of celebration had turned into an apprehensive quiet. Truth be told, the fans didn’t really have an impact on the game until Divock Origi – a man who I have criticised over the years – struck the ball with his glorious left foot, and the rest is history.
The fans might not have been as loud for the majority of the second half but we didn’t half go crazy at the end of it. There were tears of joy and embracing moments with people you don’t even know and that shows the beauty of football.
During the final rendition of YNWA I just held my scarf up and closed my eyes to absorb the sound of the moment. Seeing our Mighty Reds lift that trophy was the best day of my life and I’m eternally grateful that I got to witness something so special.