the latest news (plus my thoughts)
One. FP, JV and MP had lunch with capitanes Iker and Sergio yesterday at the Señorío de Alcocer restaurant (once again proving that they never venture too far from the Bernabéu) to discuss the bonuses for the season. The lunch lasted two and a half hours, and both sides agreed to keep the bonuses the same as last year. In other words, that’s (per player) €575,000 for the Champions League, €360,000 for the Liga and €200,000 for the Copa (meaning that if Madrid wins the triplete, the players could take home a hefty €1.135 million each, even though they supposedly took into account – I don’t know how unless it’s that they decided not to increase the bonus – the crisis that Spain is currently going through).
When this took place last year, the third and fourth captains (Iker and Sergio) were invited, along with the first two (Raúl and Guti). This year, Diarra and Marcelo were notably absent because they weren’t invited. What does that mean?
Other notes: Iker wore a plaid shirt for the second year in a row to this event. Sergio stuck with his preferred color as of late, pink. I like his hair like this!
And Iker. If you keep your sunglasses and phone on the table (picture below), then what in the world is in that purse of yours? Are you carrying Sergio’s things for him or something? (That would actually be kind of cute). Watch a video of the protagonists walking into the restaurant here. Iker Casillas’ purse once again takes a leading role, stealing the scene.
Two. Meanwhile, back at the Santiago Bernabéu, Kaká and Pedro León were busy handing out presents for the Real Madrid Foundation’s “no child without a toy at Christmas” campaign. Kaká participated last year as well, with Zidane, to present gifts to minors living in residents in Madrid and immigrant children. As he walked out, Kaká was asked by the press when he expected to be back, and his reply was that he hoped after the Christmas break.
(Surely the Madrid photographer could have gotten a better picture than this one, with the two of them looking less than thrilled – Pedro – and wooden – Kaká?)
Iker will also hand out gifts to children today, with the Clinica Menorca.
Three. Former Madrid player and coach Vicente del Bosque presented his biography, El valor de la dignidad (The Value of Dignity) yesterday. The book talks about his 36 years in Madrid, from his first day with the club to the last day, that now infamous “cold” goodbye dinner on June 23, 2003. If you don’t know what happened, here’s a brief recap: that night, just hours after Real Madrid won the Liga, the club told VDB that they had decided not to renew his contract and so basically there were firing him.
Despite that, VDB said at the presentation he has no bitterness toward the club, saying that he was “lucky” and “fortunate” to have spent 36 years with the club. He added that he remembers “very affectionately” his time working with the cantera, and “extremely proud to have been taught at Real Madrid, to have learned from Molowny, from Santiago Bernabéu, with the players from the Quinta del Buitre, Juanito, with Casillas, Raúl, Guti, Pavón…”
VDB’s dismissal was one of the lowest moments in my life supporting this club (and unlike him, I still hold some resentment), but in the end, if he had continued with Madrid, maybe Spain wouldn’t be world champions today.
Four. Charity game updates.
Since we just mentioned the Quinta del Buitre, we’ll start with Iker and Figo’s game. Two members of that group have signed on for the game, the Buitre himself, Emilio Butragueño, and Manolo Sanchís (with Míchel coaching coach Figo’s team). [Brief history lesson, if you're interested - Miguel Pardeza (also mentioned above, since he's now the sporting director) and Martín Vázquez were the two other members.]
Other participants that have been mentioned in recent days (but without real official confirmation yet): Zidane, Guti, Cannavaro, Hierro, Busquets, Llorente, Piqué and Miguel Torres (yay!).
This promotional video was also just released. Forlán: Africa made me the best player. Sergio: In Africa we achieved something incredible. We can do it again. Kanouté: We hope to see you on Dec. 29 in the Vicente Calderón. Champions for Africa. Voiceover: Champions for Africa. For the victory of education in Africa.
Can we talk about Sergio’s scarf? It’s decidedly feminine, no? The colors, the pattern, the way it’s worn…
Five. And an update on Jerzy Dudek. The jaw fracture he suffered against Auxerre has meant that he’s had to keep his mouth closed, which is difficult for him, because he likes to talk. Instead, he’s had to communicate via gestures and text messages, as well as the occasional mutter. And when it comes to meals, he can only eat liquids, which means purees and baby food, all via spoons and straws (the only good thing is that the club gave him instructions on what to eat, so at least he didn’t have to worry about that). On Monday, he’ll meet with doctors and hopefully get the clearance to speak again.
Six. And Cris was back in training yesterday. Also present were four canteranos: Pacheco, Sarabia, Juanfran and Joselu, with the latter subbing in for MFC, who was sent home with a fever. Joselu’s currently the leading goalscorer of Castilla.