A Madrid-Atleti final, the acid test for a friendship | It’s LaLiga| The USA Print

Luis Vidal, the second on the right in the image, with his brother Ricardo and his mattress friends Luis and Javier.

The story of my dearest group of friends is somewhat unique. The four of us grew up in the same Madrid neighborhood, a few streets from the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, and when we were almost 60 years old we all ended up living in the United States. Although we can’t see each other much because we both live in Boston, one in New York and one in Florida, in 2014 we organized a reunion that we will remember forever: a trip to Lisbon to witness the first European final between Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. A very nice idea, but also somewhat risky knowing that in something as essential as football there is an abyss separating us. My brother Ricardo and I have always been madridistas, while our teammates Luis and Javier are and will be irredeemable mattress supporters.

I remember that May afternoon almost 10 years ago, at the airport, in the streets, in bars, they looked at us somewhat strangely, surprised. Our teams, eternal rivals, were supposed to meet in a duel that would mark their history forever. There was no room for camaraderie. The only objective was to beat the other, to avoid falling on the side of the defeated. But we try to take it with a bit of philosophy and we spend those hours beforehand trying to have fun. Always together, regardless of the colors of our shirts. We were proud to show ourselves like this.

Luis Vidal, the second on the right in the image, with his brother Ricardo and his mattress friends Luis and Javier.BT

We only parted ways when we got to the gate of the stadium. Those of Madrid sit at one end and those of Atlético at the other end. As a Real Madrid player, you can already imagine all the suffering that happened after losing the entire game. Although, of course, if you compare it with what happened with our teammates, with that comeback so late, when they were already savoring victory, surely my nerves remain in a mere anecdote.

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After the game we met outside the field. The rush of joy that he brought me lowered a bit when we met Luis and Javier and saw their faces of total disappointment. Since there was no way to get a taxi to the center of Lisbon, the four of us walked away, discussing the game, and I felt a strange mixture of excitement for the victory, and sorrow and compassion for the defeat of my friends.

For them, the trip back to the United States seemed very long. That is why I imagine that when another Champions League final was held between our teams, two years later, the possibility of traveling was no longer discussed. We are satisfied with commenting on it on WhatsApp, as we always do, without giving up that brotherly friendship that no football dispute can ever break.

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