The Spanish press on Thursday hailed the first major European trophy in 48 years for Atletico Madrid, who have long been overshadowed by their mighty cross-town rival Real and the butt of jokes.
“In the year of the (economic) crisis, the crisis team could not fail in its date with history,” said Spain’s leading daily El Pais. The victory wiped out years of humiliation for the supporters, who had not celebrated a major title since Atletico won the league and Spanish Cup double in 1996.
“This will help to comfort children who arrive in school on a Monday with heads bowed and workers who do not even want to look at the newspaper in the bar with its mocking comments about their team,” said the Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo.
The fatalism and pessimism of the supporters, many of whom are from working-class districts of the capital, reached such a level that the club launched a publicity campaign in the 2001-02 season that included some self-depreciating humour.
“Daddy, why are we with Atleti?” asked a child in the advertisment, to which the father replied: “It’s not easy to explain but it’s something very, very big.”
On Thursday, the front page of the sports newspaper Marca, more used to highlighting the exploits of Real’s millionaire stars, provided the child’s imagined response following the victory: “Daddy, now I know why we’re with Atleti.”
Late Wednesday, thousands of ecstatic Atletico supporters sang and danced in the street at Madrid’s Neptune Fountain after their first major European title since the club won the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962.
The crowd chanted “Champions, Champions,” and “Uruguayan, Uruguayan” in honour of Forlan and taunted their Madrid rivals with “Real, salute the champions!”
Result: Atletico 2 (Forlan’s brace) bt Fulham 1 (Davies)