Entire Bilbao celebrates an inevitable victory | Soccer | Sports


Perhaps the best observation of what was experienced this Saturday in Bilbao was provided by Julia, a seven-year-old girl. In the midst of the atmosphere and the songs in the Plaza Nueva in the Old Town, at aperitif time, her father asked him:

–Have you seen anything like it?

“Yes,” answered the girl, “in Where is Wally.

Actually, it was like Where is Wally, but vice versa. If popular children’s books try to locate the character dressed in red and white stripes among the crowds, this Saturday in Bilbao the challenge was to find, among the red and white hordes, someone who did not wear the colors.

The whole day was celebrated. They suffered at night and, around one in the morning, they won on penalties. After this day of absolute madness in Bilbao, no other outcome could be conceived.

There were 70,000 Athletic fans in Seville. But in Bilbao not one was missing. At the end of the game, in the Old Town, streams of red and white marched through each of the seven streets. The same streets that filled the groups and families with songs since the morning. At night, the curse of six lost finals so far this century flew at times over the crowded Plaza Nueva, presided over by one of the seven giant screens that had been installed in different parts of the city. But the fourth penalty, the one Berenguer took close to the right post, unleashed the madness. Greif almost touches it, but in football an almost can only mean all or nothing, and the distance between the ball and the goalkeeper’s hand is already infinite. Like the joy that floods the streets of Bilbao like an overflowing estuary this morning.

For Javier Valdivieso, 23 years old, wearing an Athletic shirt and red and white stripes painted on his face, his nerves prevented him from seeing the penalties on the giant screen that would end up giving him the first major title of his life. He left his friends in the square and went out to lean against a wall, crouching, clutching his head with his gaze fixed on the ground. “We have suffered, we have suffered too much,” he acknowledged at the end of the game, on the verge of tears. “There was a moment that he thought we could lose. But this team can do everything. It’s incredible, this is the best hobby in the world. Just look and listen to this,” he said, surrounded by euphoric fans who tirelessly chanted the same songs that provided the soundtrack of an unforgettable day since the morning.

Everything in Bilbao has been red and white this April 6 that will forever be marked in the memory of a club unique in the world, for its stubborn philosophy of only having local players in globalized football and for its very special union with a territory . A club eager to give a title to generations, those born after 1984, who had not been able to celebrate any until tonight. Now they have it stuck in their hearts and they walk hugging each other, leaving the Old Town in silence, heading towards their homes, some, or to continue the party in Pozas, those who don’t want to sleep.

Already at noon, the streets of the city center were a party. From the Old Town, passing through the inevitable Pozas, to San Mamés. There, on the esplanade, there was a queue to have a photo taken with the mythical statue in honor of Iríbar. Giant screens had also been installed on the field so that 48,000 fans could watch the final against Mallorca, a detail from the club towards the fans and, in particular, towards those members who were deprived of traveling to Seville by the ticket draw.

Partners like Iñigo de Salvador, 46 years old. There are six in the group, their three tickets were raffled off and it was not their turn. But those who remain, with their families, were here in San Mamés. “No one considers that they could lose, we are celebrating, regardless of who wins,” he said, early in the afternoon. He was accompanied by his six and five year old daughters, who were already dreaming of the barge sailing the estuary with the players, a dream that will finally come true this Thursday. “My oldest daughter is the age I was the last time the barge left,” he explains. “We have had to settle all these years with some vague memories. But they will have photos and videos. They will never be forgotten.”

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