Every visit to the Spanish capital has either been freezing or boiling hot, No see breezes as I found in Barcelona, Malaga, Cadiz, Bilbao, Vigo, La Coruna, Gijon, Santander and elsewhere.
My first visit was in the winter of 1981 and I had an appointment with the GM of Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernebeu. He took me to the treasure trove which is their museum with one wall full of European Cups and Champions League trophies. Before cell phones, he heard his office phone ringing, gave me the museum keys and asked me to lock up when I was finished! It is one of the SEVEN WONDERS OF THE FOOTBALL WORLD ! I didn't nick anything!
Last night we were all privileged to watch a magnificent contest as Real Madrid hosted Manchester United in the first leg of the semi-final.. Back in 1957 before Eurovision, I saw the film of their first clash 3-1 to Los Meregues, on my 9 black and white TV when the newsreel reached England. Hector Rial, Alfredo di Stefano and Enrique Matea. Tommy Taylor scored for United. I vividly remember reading how United were to wear all red for the first time.
The return leg in Manchester finished 2-2, 5-3 on aggregate. It was played at City's Maine Road since still poor United had not yet installed floodlights. Less than a year later, half the Busby Babes from that fixture would perish on a runway in Munich !! Taylor and Bobby Charlton and Rial and Raymond Copa scored the goals,
At the 1982 FIFA World Cup I tossed and turned in my un air conditioned room at a pension on the Gran Via downtown and always went downstairs to a nearby bakery on Plaza Espana for an empanada and pear juice.
Despite a 20 minute lead by Danny Welbeck, it was Cristiano Ronaldo and his 30th minute equaliser which stood out. He climbed high and mightily above the Reds defence for the perfect text book header. His new club seemed to overwhelm his previous one as the half time whistle approached but the visitors were resolute. Towards the end of the match it seemed as if Robin Van Persie would take a lead into the return leg , while at the other end 22 year old Madrileno David De Gea came of age with an immaculate display to answer his critics.
What did THE SPECIAL ONE have to say?? WELL, actually, the REAL special one is PAUL SCHOLES, and he was back home in Manchester resting.!! ha ha.
We are all in for a treat at Old Trafford, THE THEATRE OF DREAMS, in three weeks time.