I have been actively hooked onto football for a really long time now. However, the first real tournament I followed was the 1998 World Cup. Just before this I was badly hooked to FIFA ’98 which I still think is one of the best football games ever! We hardly used to get a lot of football on TV before that. After that I have watched every major tournament that has been aired all these years.
It was around the same time that I got a taste of club football. The Manchester Uniteds’, the Barcelonas’, the Juventus’, Newcastle Uniteds’ (yes it was awesome then), the Chelseas’ (it quite sucked back then) of the world were all new and the fact that teams other than nations were playing was somewhat weird. The fact that not many people watched all this didn’t help increase my knowledge (quite different from now ain’t it?). But one team that somehow caught my fancy was Real Madrid Club de Futbol; it had just won the Champions League in 1998 (which I didn’t even know existed), and would win it again in 2000 (which I DID watch). It’s been 11 years, 3 World Cups, 3 European Championships, 11 Champions League, and 11 La Ligas of which I have watched all. The two teams I support, national and club, are Italy and Real Madrid. In these 11 years, Italy has won the World Cup in 2006 and reached the finals of the European Championship in 2000 losing to France in extra time. Real Madrid, has won the Champions League twice (not counting the 1998 season), been the La Liga champions 4 times and runners up 4 times; and I have watched every one of these.
It has been 11 years and I still love this club. Right when it was captained by Fernando Hierro with team mates like Raul, Roberto Carlos, Clarence Seedorf, Davor Suker, Fernando Morientes, Fernando Redondo and 17 year old called Iker Casillas; then captained by Raul and players like Carlos, Figo, Beckham, Casillas, Ronaldo, Owen (yes, Michael Owen) and the best ever – Zinedine Zidane; right upto now, still captained by Raul and supported by Casillas (who is still only 28 and the captain of Spain), Van Nistelrooy, Cannavaro, Robben, Segio Ramos, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Pepe and the latest confirmed signing Kaka (don’t want to comment on Ronaldo right now)!
It has not been the best of clubs to support for the only fact that you don’t get many people on your side. You either like Real Madrid or you hate them and around here, people are too obsessed with watching the EPL (which in my opinion is only the second best league) to like Real Madrid. Yes, it does not have the best defence, it has never had, but this is not because they didn’t have enough money to splurge on defence, but because investing in defence is not what Real Madrid does. They invest in attacking players who are magicians on the pitch, defenders have never been heroes in Madrid (apart from Casillas, who should be inducted in the Hall of Fame now itself). That is how they have always played and always will play.
Los Galacticos, Los Blancos, Los Merengues, Real, Madrid are all names they are known by. But their fans are only called Madridistas. I am one, and will be for a very long time.