A Night of Glory and Magic - by ASÃ¢ÂÂs Tomas Roncero* (*not technically true)
For three dark months my soul has been as bleak and pointless as a life without ham. Or Don Alfredo di Stefano. May angels sing his name for all eternity.
It was like Satan himself had carved out my heart and moved into the bleak and empty space left behind.
But Satan was cast out like Robinho will be as I saw the shining lights of the Bernabeu on Sunday night. It had been too long.
Oh, what a palace of dreams this is. Carved out by GodÃ¢ÂÂs Almighty spoon. A coliseum of the impossible. A galaxy of pleasure.
Such was my excitement on my return that I did not sleep for six days. But as I sat in my seat next to all my friends, hundreds of SMSÃ¢ÂÂs came through from my many, many pals.
Ã¢ÂÂTomas, IÃ¢ÂÂm leaving you,Ã¢ÂÂ said my wife.
Ã¢ÂÂTomas, why are you such a tool?Ã¢ÂÂ wrote one AtlÃÂ©tico-loving pal. I laughed. I love the rojiblancos like I would love a hamster.
But I pity them, too.
Santiago Bernabeu: The bestest place in the whole world
I looked up into the stands to see Paco the great, the Pirates of Mostoles and Jorge the Unclean. Men I would give my life for.
And so the game began. What a festival the first half was! Real Madrid - the greatest club in the world - toying with Valencia like a kitten patting a tiny ball of cotton wool.
Ã¢ÂÂRaul, what a crock of cack,Ã¢ÂÂ I heard from some of my anglo-saxon brethren.
What do they know of Raul! What do they know of Spain! What do they know of Rafa Nadal! Fernando Alonso! Gemma Mengual! Almudena Cid! The bloke who won the bronze in the fencing!
And what of the muchacho Robinho? Clearly an alien infestation with mind control powers has taken over his brain. Why else could he sully the glorious name of Real Madrid? Why?
Besides, I never liked him anyway.
As Raul lead Real Madrid home to a glorious night that will go down in the history of the world as the coming of the Great Reckoning, I heard singing from the millions packed into the Bernabeu stands.
And I thought to myself, Ã¢ÂÂI think I just had a bit of an accident.Ã¢ÂÂ
A day in the life of Roberto Gomez - by Marca's Roberto Gomez* (*not technically true)
Woke up, lard for breakfast. Got some on my chin.
Rang RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n. Ã¢ÂÂFor Christ sake, you bloody pest!Ã¢ÂÂ he said, Ã¢ÂÂWill you piss off and leave me alone? IÃ¢ÂÂve changed numbers five times and you still donÃ¢ÂÂt get the message. IÃ¢ÂÂm absolutely sick of you, you vile little man.Ã¢ÂÂ
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a little in-joke we have. In fact, he thinks IÃ¢ÂÂm great and we really are very, very, very good friends. He invited me to his birthday party once. He wasnÃ¢ÂÂt there. Nor was anyone else, come to think of it. Must have been some sort of mistake. Or another one of those practical jokes he likes to play on his bestest mates. HeÃ¢ÂÂs such a scream.
Lovely man, RamÃÂ³n. Did I mention he was a really close friend of mine? We go back, ooh, years. Since he became president. He boasts a class and elegance thatÃ¢ÂÂs so rare in football. Or he would, only he never boasts about anything. Ever. HeÃ¢ÂÂs a real gentleman. If only others would learn from him. I just wish heÃ¢ÂÂd get his phone fixed. It keeps cutting out. Seems to be quite a common problem with people in football, actually.
RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n: Great guy, rubbish phone
Rang Marca to tell them that Cristiano Ronaldo is definitely coming to Madrid. By July 4. Hang on, July 14. I mean, next Friday. Ha! That should trump JosÃÂ© Vicente HernÃÂ¡ez! Our Ã¢ÂÂexclusives warÃ¢ÂÂ on the back of the paper is really hotting up and IÃ¢ÂÂve got to be on my toes. Which isnÃ¢ÂÂt easy with these legs, I can tell you.
Went for lunch, stopping on route for a ham sandwich. Got some of the grease on my chin. Quick detour in my car (itÃ¢ÂÂs a dead nice one, you know: you should ring PepeÃ¢ÂÂs Cars, great place, lovely man) to pick up that paper bag. Which reminds me: thereÃ¢ÂÂs this really wonderful construction magnate whoÃ¢ÂÂs a lovely chap. Just because the land was oddly cheap and thereÃ¢ÂÂs a string of court cases against him doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean anything.
For some reason Madrid and AtlÃÂ©tico still havenÃ¢ÂÂt played that friendly match I told them to play at his new development. I think itÃ¢ÂÂs outrageous. I mean, they played that Game for Peace thing between Israel and Palestine, so why not at his grand opening? I mean, there are going to be 13,000 houses there. And heÃ¢ÂÂs a lovely guy, not at all dodgy, oh no, no siree Bob. They should do more for Spain. IÃ¢ÂÂm going to tell me very good friend RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n that.
Arrived at the Asador Donostiarra, where the Maitre dÃ¢ÂÂ is my mate, just in time to see the president of the Spanish Federation scrambling out the window, muttering Ã¢ÂÂoh Jesus, not againÃ¢ÂÂ or something like that. Then I thought about it and realised he had actually said Ã¢ÂÂQuique Sanchez Flores will be the new Spain manager.Ã¢ÂÂ
Rang Marca, told them that the new Spain manager will be Quique SÃÂ¡nchez Flores. My good friend, Quique. Rang Quique. Ã¢ÂÂRoberto who?Ã¢ÂÂ he said.
Ordered the menu. The whole menu, I mean. Got some on my chin. Nice bottle of red. Bodega Vega Sicilia. Then I had some brandy. Osborne. From Jerez. Nice guy BertÃÂn Osbourne. Bloody awful singer, mind you. Mate of mine. And cigars. Cuban ones, really good ones. Only the best. You can get them from my friend Carlos the Cuban, the finest Cuban cigar seller in Madrid. Not that IÃ¢ÂÂm plugging another friend of mine in return for some freebie, obviously. IÃ¢ÂÂd never do that. But, speaking of plugs, if you do ever need a new one, I know this great electrical store run by a lovely man called Javier in Quevedo.
Saw CalderÃÂ³n at another table. He pretended not to see me for a joke - because weÃ¢ÂÂre really good friends and weÃ¢ÂÂre always joshing with each other - but I went over anyway and sat down. The man next to him with hair nearly as slick as my chin whispered something about Ã¢ÂÂfeed him any old bollocks, RamÃÂ³n, heÃ¢ÂÂll publish it.Ã¢ÂÂ Did someone say feed? Hmm. Poor RamÃÂ³n wasnÃ¢ÂÂt feeling too well though and had to leave in a hurry. Flew out the door. Must have eaten something that disagreed with him. I finished off what he left on his plate. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs what friends are for.
Left the Asador and went for lunch at the Txistu. They love me in there; I always get such a friendly welcome. Especially from AtlÃÂ©tico president Enrique Cerezo, who was there again and waved that special, bestest mates wave of his. The one with one finger. And David VillaÃ¢ÂÂs agent, another mate. Which reminds me, AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid are going to sign David Silva. Definitely. Back of the net! Another exclusive! Had the menu again. Started with jamÃÂ³n ibÃÂ©rico de bellota, revuelto de jamÃÂ³n and then jamÃÂ³n. Got some on my chin.
Went to the bullfighting. Everyone knows that RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n is a huge bullfighting fan. We were watching El Juli, JosÃÂ© TomÃÂ¡s and El Cid. All mates of mine, the finest bullfighters in all Christendom. They cut off an ear and two tails and got carried out the ring, through the front door.
There must have been some mix up because my seat wasnÃ¢ÂÂt next to RamÃÂ³nÃ¢ÂÂs but I managed to squeeze in. He was delighted to see me, but still looked a bit queasy. That sinister looking guy was with him again. He told me Real Madrid are signing Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Greta Garbot.
Rang Marca and told them the exclusive. IÃ¢ÂÂm glad itÃ¢ÂÂs good or else JosÃÂ© Vicente might have beaten me. Apparently, heÃ¢ÂÂs uncovered the story that the Catalans are all horrible, which is a great follow up to his one last week about how all Catalans are smelly. Did some more high-level investigative digging, from my secret sources.
Rang Marca and told them Madrid are going to buy David Villa, plus Leo Messi, Bojan Krikic and Sergio Aguero. And, get this, theyÃ¢ÂÂre going to build a new car park at Valdebebas! And a playersÃ¢ÂÂ residency. And a new telly set. And RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n is going to order some more of those lovely throat-restricting high collared shirts, plus a couple of blazers with lovely gold buttons from his favourite tailor. My favourite tailor, too Ã¢ÂÂ Paco, lovely man. Shop near AlcalÃÂ¡. HeÃ¢ÂÂs not just a great bloke CalderÃÂ³n, heÃ¢ÂÂs stylish too.
Great scoop for me. Mint choc chip. Hmmm. Not a bad story either Ã¢ÂÂ or at least it will be when the poor sap in the Marca office has made it vaguely coherent.
Remember, you heard it here first. Unless you heard it on elconfidencial.com a week ago, of course. Shh, itÃ¢ÂÂs our little secret.
Smoked a big Cuban cigar and had a jamÃÂ³n sandwich. Went to the studios at TVE, stopping off at De MarÃÂa on route. Had some jamÃÂ³n and the finest, most tender steak there is, alongside even more of my great mates in football. I wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt want to name drop, obviously. I wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be so crass as to tell you that Raul was there. Or Baptista. Or ForlÃÂ¡n, Ramos, Robben, Casillas, Maxi, Aguirre, Belenguer, JoaquÃÂn, and Schuster.
Especially because theyÃ¢ÂÂre such good mates of mine; itÃ¢ÂÂs a private meal between me and my friends, not for public knowledge.
Got to TVE, make-up kept slipping off my chin for some reason. Sat in a hot studio for an hour. Sweaty. Shouted a bit. Folded arms. Rested my case. Looked smug. Was feeling very pleased with myself, which is unusual for me; normally IÃ¢ÂÂm so modest. Went for dinner at Casa Juan to celebrate. Lovely guy, Juan. Great restaurant; one of the finest in Madrid Ã¢ÂÂ and I should know.
Waved at my friends, Luis AragonÃÂ©s and Fernando Hierro. For a laugh they hid under the table. Ate some jamÃÂ³n. Then went for the menu. Bottle of Rioja, MarquÃÂ©s de something. Cuban cigars, PacharÃÂ¡n, and a cognac. Well, I deserve it.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs been another successful day in the life of the worldÃ¢ÂÂs greatest journalist. Time to sleep. Must remember to call RamÃÂ³n CalderÃÂ³n in the morning and tell him to fix his phone.