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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Spain hails historic Real Madrid victory

Spain's press on Sunday hailed Real Madrid's 10th European title but highlighted the cruel fate dealt to Atletico Madrid, whose lead was snatched away in a painful reminder of their last such final 40 years ago.

Spain hails historic Real Madrid victory
Real Madrid defenders Alvaro Arbeloa and defender Pepe (R) celebrate their UEFA Champions League final win with fans at Cibeles Square in Madrid on Saturday. Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP

"The cruellest final, again, for Atletico Madrid," ran a headline in the top-selling Marca sports daily.

"Atletico Madrid again suffered the cruelty of football in a continental final."

After leading 1-0 for nearly an hour, Atletico let Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos equalise in injury time in the 93rd minute, sending the Champions League final in Lisbon into extra time.

Over the next 30 minutes, Real tore apart a physically exhausted Atletico, scoring another three goals to leave the final tally at 4-1.

Pro-Real daily Marca splashed a giant photo of Ramos roaring in triumph above the headline "La Decima!" — Real fans' term for the longed-for 10th title — for which it thanked his "providential header".

The result echoed the last time Atletico reached the European finals in 1974 when Bayern Munich's Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck equalised 1-1 in the 119th minute. Two days later they played a deciding game, which Bayern won 4-0.

"Forty years later, Atletico Madrid loses a European cup final, again. Forty years later, they do it following a very similar script to that of 1974 when a goal by Schwarzenbeck forced a deciding game in which Bayern had no opposition," said an article in Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo.

"What a way to go!" for Atletico, read a headline in the paper, under pictures of dejected Atletico players and jubilant Real fans.

Spain's leading daily, El Pais, delivered a similar verdict.   

"The European cup was historically important as it crowned Real Madrid for the 10th time, its king of kings, and condemned Atletico in as cruel a fashion as it did four decades ago," the paper said.

"This time it was not a tall German who would frustrate Atletico but Sergio Ramos, who is a Real Madrid player in his genes."

Major sports daily AS said Ramos's goal helped to make up for an error by Real's goalkeeper captain Iker Casillas, who was criticised for letting in Atletico defender Diego Godin's header in the 36th minute.

"The Decima has to be special and it was. It could not just be another Cup, a win like others, or a similar happiness," said AS sports writer Juanma Trueba.

"The heroism, concentrated in the unbreakable faith of a team in the last minutes of standard play, was an infinite cruelty seen from the perspective of Atletico de Madrid," he added.

"Atletico were champions for 56 minutes, almost an hour, to which you have to add the six minutes they were champions 40 years ago. It happened the same way as it did then.

When they thought they were victors, when everyone did, except Real Madrid."  

The final made the lead story on the front pages of top general newspapers El Pais and El Mundo, which each ran photographs of the Real Madrid players roaring as a wild-eyed Casilla lifted the cup.

"Heroes in Lisbon," ran El Mundo's headline.

"Real Madrid's legend grows," said El Pais.   

A picture of the jubilant Real squad even made the cover of staunchly pro-Barcelona daily Sport. "La Decima came like a miracle," it said.

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FOOTBALL

Liverpool fan to Madrid taxi driver: ‘You’ve restored my faith in humanity’

A Liverpool fan who lost his phone in the back of a cab after spending the weekend in Madrid for the Champions League Final didn’t hold out much hope for its return.

Liverpool fan to Madrid taxi driver: ‘You’ve restored my faith in humanity’
Paul Hands with his fiancée Charlotte in Madrid for the Champions League final. Photo: P Hands

Message boards and whatsapp groups were full of anecdotes about fans having their phones  snatched and wallets nicked by pickpockets taking advantage of the crowds that flocked to the city for the final earlier this month.

So Paul Hands, 44 a recently retired officer from the British Army, felt he only had himself to blame when he leapt out of a taxi at the airport leaving his phone and bank cards behind on the seat.

“When we got to the airport we had to quickly pay and jump out and it was then that I dropped my phone (the phone has a wallet holder so my bank cards were also in it),” he explained to The Local by telephone  from his home in Liverpool.

 “I didn’t realise I’d dropped it until we was through security and we didn’t have a clue what the taxi company was as we just flagged him down on the street,” he said.

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It wasn’t the loss of the phone, or the bank cards that most upset him, but rather the loss of all the photographs Paul and his fiancée, Charlotte, had taken during their stay in Madrid.

“We were both gutted as the phone had all our photographs from recent trips and all our info about our wedding – we get married in Liverpool in 2 Months time – I honestly thought we’d lost all the photos and phone as we hadn’t had a chance to back the photos up,” he said.

But just on the off chance, after a long journey home, flying via Porto, he logged onto the “find my phone app” on ipad and sent a message asking that whoever had his phone please get in contact..

To his immense surprise, he received a message back from the taxi driver, whose name was Juan,, and through using a translation app, the pair were able to communicate.

“The taxi driver sent us a message saying he was so glad we’d sent a message to the phone as he was worried how he could get it back to us.

 “We thanked him (we were using the English/Spanish translator as he didn’t speak English and we don’t speak Spanish!). The phone arrived at my home address some 5 days later. All in perfect condition and we were able to recover our photos.”


Paul and Charlotte recovered all the photos of their memorable trip. Photo credit: P Hands.

What’s more, the driver refused to accept a money transfer to pay for the postal costs, despite repeated attempts to reimburse him – instead, Paul and Charlotte plan to send him a gift.

“The actions of this taxi driver made the whole trip amazing. As well as our team winning the European Cup we got to meet this man that was so honest and really did more than we’d expect. Especially as the cost of the taxi  ride was less than the cost of the postage!”

“He’s a great ambassador for Madrid and a true gentleman,” the fan added.

Hands shared his story on Facebook forums for Liverpool fans and expats in Madrid where some told him how lucky he was, and others also shared their stories of kind-hearted Madrileños.

“It's so nice to hear a good story for a change”, wrote one.  “Thank you for restoring my faith in the human race.”

“This in my experience is Madrileños. More than one thank you they get bored with and just want you to shut up!” wrote another.

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