Apocalypse now as bedlam reigns in Spain

“Oh! There’ll be an apocalypse!” was the cheerful prediction from the perkily pretty and madly-grinning Sandra, a waitress working in Madrid’s Plaza Dos de Mayo when asked what would happen if Iker Casillas were to lift the World Cup the following day.

Sandra wasn’t too far off.

At 6am on Monday morning, the streets of Madrid mirrored the cities, towns and villages of the rest of the World Cup-winning country - streets covered with detritus and drunks. Spread-eagled, staggering, stupefied and senseless supporters wrapped in flags unable to remember if they had jobs to go to in two hours time but not really caring if they did.

At 6 am on Monday morning, Spain smelt of sweat, beer and p*ss - the true smell of Champions.

Although the ho-down against Holland did not start until eight thirty in the evening, supporters began sitting patiently in front of the five giant screens set up along Madrid’s Paseo de Recoletes and up to the Cibeles fountain from midday.

By the time the match kicked off, there were 200,000 of them - a marvellously good-natured mass who had survived hours of truly terrible pop acts and 40 degree heat by singing the only chant any follower of la Roja needs to know - “Yo Soy Español! Español! Español!”

A few hours later, a new song had been added - “Campeones!”

After a truly tortuous, terrifying game that sent the near quarter of a million crowd into silence with the growing, nagging fear that the match would end in penalties and a Netherlands victory, San Iker lifted the beautiful, sparkling gold trophy into the air.

Spain had won the World Cup, something that LLL and perhaps millions of others around the country are still trying process.

When the final whistle was blown by the hapless Howard Webb, bedlam broke out in the Recoletes Fan Park. It was apocalypse, right frackin’ now.

Security fences crashed, fireworks banged, fans screamed, cried and piled onto each other. A black coffin with the words “Holland R.I.P.” that one imaginative group had brought along for the game was burned whilst people danced around the fire Lord of the Flies style.

For hours after the game, fans stood in the streets beeping everything they could or danced like loons in the few remaining fountains that had not been fenced off by city officials fearing mass destruction of some fairly historic property.

By 8 am, hungover but happy supporters were gathering around newspapers kiosks to pick up their bursting, bulging copies of Marca and AS.

It was almost as if they were looking for confirmation of what had happened the night before - a night dominated by Andrés Iniesta’s goal and Iker’s kiss, an image that will surely become the defining one of the World Cup win in Spain.

However, the World Cup party was only just starting to get going. The supporters had chatted in the kitchen and danced in the living room. Now it was time for 45 million people to move to the bedroom.

To the south of the city in the shadow of the Royal Palace and along the banks of the regenerated River Manzanares, fans started pouring into the scene of what eventually became the Pepe Reina show as La Selección took to the stage in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters, some of whom had been waiting up to 11 hours in the stunning heat and were being hosed down by firemen who looked like they had never had so much fun in their lives.

Before the players charged onto the stage, they had undertaken an insane open top bus tour of Madrid that brought an estimated 2.5 million people onto the streets to welcome their heroes home.

With fans hanging out of windows and helicopters whirring overhead, the bus spent three hours eking its way through the centre of the city before reaching its final destination, where the magnificently manic Liverpool goalkeeper proceeded to both insult and praise his team-mates one-by-one.

“The future of Barça, the future of Spain - Cesc Fabregas!” was the greeting for the Arsenal man as Reina and Carles Puyol wrestled a  Barcelona shirt onto the horrified midfielder.

“The nervous-wreck of la Selección, Jesús Navas!”

"The truck of the team, Fernando Llorente!”

At midnight, it was all over with reality beginning to bite. The hundreds of thousands set about the near impossible task of getting home and tried to digest what had been one of the most exhausting, intense but exhilarating 24 hours anyone in the country can ever have experienced.

Spain are World Cup winners 2010. And that sounds very good, indeed.

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