Most of you who follow me on twitter will be aware that I’m an Australian Atlético fan who spent the majority of this year in the United Kingdom and Europe.
I deferred my Journalism studies at University in order to take a gap year, living, working and traveling around the other side of the world. The final month of my eight overseas was spent traveling around Europe. Madrid was the second last stop and my visit coincided with the clash with Levante at the Calderón.
Not only did my visit work in well with Atletico’s fixture, it also gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of the other Atletico fans I’d talked to time and time again on twitter.
Flo, a German Atlético fan, was in Madrid for two months so I was able to catch up with him as well as Gary Nunn, the Madrid-based Irishman who runs the brilliant Madridatleticos site, This is Atleti’s co-host Ricky Menéndez and AS writer Dani Hildago.
Dani was kind enough to lend me a spare press pass he had, so not only did I get to attend the game, but I was able to watch the match from the (relative) comfort of the Calderón’s press box. I was also able to sit through the post-match press conference and watch interviews in the Zona Mixta.
The match itself, for a while, looked to be heading towards a dull 0-0 draw. After 45 minutes, I and the other guys in attendance were scratching our heads thinking “what positives can be said about that half?”
It wasn’t until the second half when Pizzi opened the scoring that the game got going. The elation at Atleti’s goal didn’t last long though, as Levante pulled level minutes later and the feeling inside the stadium took a drastic nosedive.
It was then even more remarkable to see everyone’s spirits rise again as Adrián headed home unmarked to re-take the lead. The mood inside the Vicente Calderón was further improved when Diego added a third and the parties continued despite Levante pulling a goal back in injury time.
The post-match press conference gave me the opportunity to see Gregorio Manzano face the media and although my Spanish is extremely limited, it was still a worthwhile experience.
Even better was the zona mixta, where I was able to see two of the goalscorers, Pizzi and Adrián being interviewed. Again, I didn’t understand a lot of what was being said, but just seeing real-life Atlético players in front of me was incredible.
It was great to be able to attend a match in person and experience the singing and chanting of the brilliant Atlético fans.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while and thanks to Gary, Flo, Ricky, Dani and the eleven men on the pitch, it was one of the highlights of my trip. I can’t thank those guys enough for helping me out during my brief stop in the Spanish capital.