Why I Joined: My love for Spanish soccer began with stickers

Most individuals fall in love with soccer due to a sure workforce or participant. My story is much extra embarrassing — all of it started with stickers.

Born in London to a Spanish mom and an English father, I used to be not a fan of the sport at first. You have been way more prone to discover me studying a e book or drawing cartoons throughout our yearly holidays to southern Spain, however that modified when my cousin and I picked up a La Liga sticker album one summer season.

One thing concerning the mixture of unique participant names, workforce badges and the shirts worn by both sides appealed to me. There was nobody star who stood out above the remaining given my soccer agnosticism on the time — a sticker of then-Getafe midfielder Dani Parejo was simply as helpful as certainly one of Actual Madrid icon Iker Casillas.

My cousin and I by no means accomplished an album, however gathering the stickers turned a practice. On the similar time, I started to ask my Spanish grandfather, a eager Madridista, questions concerning the recreation. I quickly discovered he may spend hours speaking concerning the nice Alfredo Di Stefano, his journeys to the Bernabeu as a teenager and the groups who had helped forge the legend of Actual Madrid.

I used to be hooked, and I could not have picked a greater second to get into Spanish soccer. Spain have been conquering all earlier than them on the worldwide stage, successful the European Championship in 2008 and 2012 both facet of the World Cup in 2010. In La Liga, Barcelona have been revolutionizing the sport below Pep Guardiola, whereas the arrival of a sure Portuguese supervisor in Madrid was about to inject added venom into El Clasico. There was additionally the small matter of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo competing for his or her legacies on a weekly foundation.

I began a weblog on European soccer with a good friend and wrote about La Liga for a lot of websites. I spotted there was extra to the Spanish high flight than simply the large two — there was Malaga’s inconceivable run to the Champions League quarter-finals, Atletico Madrid stepping out of their extra illustrious neighbours’ shadow to win the Copa del Rey and La Liga, together with Sevilla’s unprecedented run of Europa League success. It felt like a golden age for Spanish soccer.


Atletico Madrid have twice damaged the home dominance of Actual Madrid and Barcelona over the previous decade, most not too long ago successful La Liga in 2021 (Photograph: Angel Martinez/Getty Photos)

Rather a lot has modified since then. Spain haven’t made it previous the World Cup spherical of 16 since their 2010 win, whereas Messi and Ronaldo are each lengthy gone. Actual’s 5 Champions League titles in 9 years imply this workforce could be thought of alongside the five-time winners of the Fifties, however Barca have been plunged into monetary disaster since they final gained the competitors in 2015. Most surprisingly, the 2 Clasico rivals have joined forces as a part of the breakaway European Tremendous League venture — one thing that will have appeared unthinkable when Jose Mourinho was poking Tito Vilanova within the eye 11 years in the past.

Nonetheless, Barca and Actual stay two of the largest — and sometimes essentially the most baffling — golf equipment in world soccer. The place else on the planet would you discover two units of day by day newspapers devoted to protecting a pair of rival golf equipment in such minute element? You can not perceive the size of both workforce till you’ve got learn via the pages and pages of protection afforded to Madrid and Barca in sports activities dailies Marca and AS on the Madrid facet and Sport and El Mundo Deportivo in Catalonia.

That is why I jumped on the probability to affix The Athletic as a part of their new and improved Spanish soccer part. After learning languages ​​at college and ending a sports activities journalism course in 2021, I joined The Instances as a author earlier than leaving for the same function at ESPN final yr. In each instances, I stored up my curiosity in La Liga whereas writing on topics as numerous because the Church of Maradona, the rise of fantasy soccer within the UK and Karim Benzema’s sophisticated relationship with France.

With its emphasis on long-form writing and authentic concepts, The Athletic felt like an amazing match. As junior editor, I’ll endeavor to maintain these concepts flowing whereas serving to our good workforce of reporters ship the standard journalism The Athletic is understood for. I am assured you will not discover a better-connected workforce of journalists in relation to the inside workings of Actual Madrid and Barcelona. That can permit us to present Madridistas and Cules what they need in relation to in-depth protection — and it’ll additionally permit us to carry each golf equipment to account.

At a time when Actual and Barca are nonetheless pushing for a Tremendous League, that final level is extra essential than ever earlier than. Two heavyweight golf equipment require equally spectacular protection — The Athletic will present simply that.

(High picture: David Ramos/Getty Photos)

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