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Real Madrid Sean Graham

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-2 Real Madrid CF (Raúl 8, Zidane 45; Lúcio 13) Hampden Park, Glasgow 2002

As I am sitting here looking forward to this weekend's Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley next weekend, I am thinking, I was lucky enough to attend a Champions League final back in 2002 when the final was played in Glasgow as Bayer Leverkusen took on the mighty Real Madrid.

The dream final as it was billed by many between Real Madrid and Manchester United never materialized as the Germans knocked them out at the semi-final stage while Real Madrid knocked out an old foe in rivals Barcelona in their semi-final match to set up this clash in Glasgow.

I remember thinking, I would love to go to that match but knew it would be difficult to secure a ticket as Madrid had players such as Figo, Raul, Carlos, Morientes and of course the magical Zidane in their side and knew that any football fan would love to see players like these strut their stuff on the Hampden turf.

We had heard that the Germans had handed back around 5000 tickets and so I made my interested known and managed to buy two tickets for £50 each for the top of the main stand, a bargain I thought for a final.

Once I secured the tickets, I called my mate Adrian to tell him the good news, to say that he was over the moon was an understatement, he was delighted just as I was and couldn't wait for the match to come around.

I took the day off work, as I wanted to sample the atmosphere in Glasgow before the match but I also took our little baby girl Catherine in, tucked up in her pram to sample the atmosphere also as both sets of fans mingled in George Square and were generally enjoying themselves.

To be honest, you would have thought that I was the kid and Catherine was the adult as I was just walking around smiling at our visitors, knowing that I was going to a Champions League final, I was like a kid at Christmas, just so happy and now that Catherine is older, she understands my love of football...but it's not Ice Hockey or shopping !

It wasn't the best of days in the city centre but Catherine was tucked up in her pram, warm and comfortable but surely she would wake up when she heard the sound of the horns or the fans singing or even the thumping of her Dad's heart as he got nearer and nearer to the atmosphere in the town ? No not one wink, not one yawn, not even a murmur ! But even in her sleep she was wowing the Spanish and German fans as one kind Leverkussen fan gave me his Champions League hat for her as we walked past them. The fans were so friendly and amazing all over the city.

As we walked up to a Spanish Tapas bar, the Real Madrid fans had been singing their hearts out but as I approached with the pram, one Real fan shouted to the others, "Quiet, bambino coming through " and she was still sleeping ! I had sampled the pre-match atmosphere in Glasgow but now it was time for the real thing, all roads lead to Hampden via Hamilton but not before I got Catherine safely to Tracey's work, although I could have possibly taken her to Hampden as she would have most likely have slept through it !

Now as I met up with my friend Adrian, both of us looked equally excited as we made our way to Hampden. As we reached the ground, my phone never stopped ringing, it was requests for programmes ! We were lucky enough to get a couple and headed to our seats.

As we walked in, you could feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up...it was amazing. We had a great view and we took our seats in time for the Proclaimers entering the stadium in a giant football, each wearing a strip from the finalists and belting out their hit song I 'm gonna be (500 miles) for everyone to enjoy.

As the match drew closer, I could hardly draw breath as the fans created a fantastic atmosphere in the build up to kick-off. Before the match started, we all paid our respects to the legendary Valeriy Lobanovsky of Dynamo Kiev.

The match itself passed by all too quickly for my liking. Real took the lead with an early strike from the legendary Raul but Lucio equalised for Leverkusen and this kept both sets of fans happy and on the edge of their seats. But no one who was inside Hampden that night will ever forget the goal which turned out to be the winning goal that night. A fantastic run and cross by Roberto Carlos was met by the French magician Zidane but this was not just a goal or a winning goal, this was a special goal, a wonderful goal, a goal winning this and any other Champions League final as his volley almost ripped the net off to give the Spanish giants their ninth European Cup win in their centenary year .

It was a fitting end to the most fantastic day and we wanted to take in every moment of the trophy lift and laps of honour, so much so that the stewards had to speak to us on more than one occasion but we were not for moving...but we did, eventually!


Sean Graham

Follow on Twitter @FeaturesSean


"I am just a guy who has over 40 years of memories of watching various clubs and matches since my Dad took me round the grounds in Glasgow each week before we went to meet my Mum after work and we always went to the Berni Inn where I had scampi and chips !
From watching Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Maryhill juniors and Scotland as well as watching Everton and Manchester United, I have plenty of memories to share for fans to hopefully enjoy and remember."

 

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