“I want to talk, and I have a lot to say. Thank you for believing in us: without your support we wouldn’t have won this. It’s an honor to wear this white shirt, which by the way looks fantastic on me. And as well as talking, now I’m going to sing: así, así así gana el Madrid [this is how, this is how, this is how Madrid wins].”
Carried away by the celebrations of Real Madrid’s 11th Champions League win, Cristiano Ronaldo strayed from the script at Sunday night’s event in the side’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium, but at least managed to keep his shirt on.
The side had flown back to Madrid overnight and at 7am drove straight from Madrid’s Barajas airport to the center of the capital in an open top bus
Alongside the star striker, teammates Carvajal, Modric, Bale, Ramos and coach Zinedine Zidane all trooped out to thank the thousands of fans who had been celebrating their side’s narrowest of wins in a game of equals against Atlético Madrid in Milan on Saturday night, after the 1-1 game went to a penalty shootout after extra time.
It was 10.30pm by the time Real Madrid arrived at the Bernabéu and the players made their way out onto a floodlit podium heralded by music and fireworks. Sergio Ramos, the side’s captain who scored Madrid’s early goal, was last out on to the pitch, kneeling before the cup.
“Nobody would have thought three years ago that we could win two Champions League titles in such close succession [Madrid beat Atlético 4-1 two years ago in Lisbon]. It’s been a difficult year, since Zizou [Zidane] arrived there have been big changes,” he said.
“I have dreamed of this since I was a boy, so it’s hard to describe my feelings,” said Keylor Navas, who, alongside Marcelo and Casemiro, received the biggest applause of the evening. Arbeloa, who is leaving the side, was given the shirt worn by Cheryshev, who was sold earlier this year. “I don’t know how all this started, or when, but thanks to you all, because you’ve been fantastic,” he shouted above the din.
It had been a long day: the side had flown back to Madrid overnight and at 7am drove straight from Madrid’s Barajas airport to the Cibeles fountain, in the center of the capital, in an open-top bus, where hundreds of fans who had been celebrating all night were waiting in the rain. In keeping with tradition, Ramos then placed a Real Madrid scarf around the neck of the Roman goddess of agriculture.
Following a meal with their families, the players met up again at the Valdebebas training ground, and from there returned aboard their bus to the center of the capital, where they were welcomed this time by Mayor Manuela Carmena and Cristina Cifuentes, the head of the regional government, both of whom had both attended the match at the San Siro stadium in Milan the night before.
Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, dedicated his side’s win to the Iraqi fans murdered in two terrorist attacks in recent weeks. He also praised Atlético Madrid, noting: “I want to show my respect and recognition for Atlético. They were formidable competitors and they are our friends and neighbors.”
English version by Nick Lyne.