Of Raul Gonzalez, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid 

raul gonzalez real madrid
Of Raul Gonzalez, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid

At 15 years old, I remembered how I would stay up till the wee hours morning to watch Champions League matches. I would do so with trepidation, for the fear that the Mother would be awaken and put a stop to it. These were 2am matches and I did my best to lower the TV volume as much as possible, such that I could switch the TV off immediately once I heard the bedroom door opening.

I clearly remembered the time when she woke up and caught The Brother and I glued to the TV. (We were literally glued as we had to lean in to listen to the commentary which was set at a very soft volume). Naturally a torrent of harsh words ensued and we did not get to watch the last of the match.

casillas real madrid
That’s Casillas raising the Cup! Also, he is Friend G’s favourite and still is.

My classmate Friend G was my reliable wake-up caller, my partner-in-crime, (only that to her mum), she wasn’t ‘committing a crime’. We used to exchange texts on the performance of our favourite players. Friend G’s favourite players were Casillas and Javier Portillo, (a relatively less prolific dude who still remains that way till today). We would return to school the next day, feeling drowsy and would order coffee from the school canteen as a means of sustenance.

Yes, I was an ardent Real Madrid fan in my teens, though my interest faded as my favourite players retired or moved on to second division clubs . I risk sounding like a bimbo, but the soccer players back then were exceedingly handsome and skillful, which made perfect eye-candy for the impressionable teenage girl.

Despite being very much into soccer players, Football, or soccer if you would call it is indeed a beautiful game. Some women may scoff at the fact that it involves a field of 22 men kicking a ball around, but I think otherwise. I think it’s beautiful when a player sends precise passes to their teammates, or how a player effectively dodges several tackles and out runs the defender to make it in time to score a goal.

real madrid casillas
It’s a beautiful game.

My favourite soccer player is Raul Gonzalez, never mind that he is happily married to a Spanish model). My ambition then was to become a sports journalist, so that I could cover the matches and interview football players from all walks of life. That way, I would get a chance to speak to them in person, and hopefully a romance could blossom. (How naive I was then!)

I love the fired up, roaring crowds of football fans. I love the tension and the electrified atmosphere you get as your favourite player takes a penalty kick. Trust me, that gets passed down to a HDB apartment in the middle of Sengkang too.

real madrid bernabeu tour locker room
Standing in Real Madrid’s locker room. Alas Raul has been dethroned by Christiano Ronaldo.

So when I visited Real Madrid’s stadium in July 2014, it was like a dream come true. To see the stadium where many of the signature matches had taken place. To be at the coach’s bench gives you an idea of how it might have been during a match. But my favourite is the locker room. To see where Raul Gonzalez kept his stuff last time. (Sadly, he is replaced by Christiano Ronaldo today.)

Stay tuned for more on the tour of the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

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