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.