season-end bits & pieces
All of these pieces of news are probably already known to you, but in the interest of closing out the season with my idea of complete coverage, I had to write one last post with these bits of news, so you can decide whether you want to read it or not.
First off, the “shirtless footballer” option was the overwhelming winner in this poll, with 61 percent of the votes. And I really loved some of the answers you all provided for the “other” option!
These included “fireman,” “as my husband,” “naked under the bedsheets… with me,” “all of the above” and “naked.” In general, we all think alike!
DEP: on Tuesday, FP’s wife, María Ángeles Sandoval, better known as Pitina, unexpectedly passed away at the age of 62. According to media reports, the cause of death was a heart attack, and was not related to the lung cancer that she had beat in recent years. Just a week ago, she had been in the palco presidencial of the Bernabéu watching Madrid beat Mallorca and celebrate the Liga title, and she had also traveled to Cádiz to watch Castilla this past weekend. During one interview, she had said she loved football, and that when she and FP were dating, “he took me to the movies and to watch football. In those times, I knew much more about it than he did.” Pitina came from a madridista family, but she didn’t become a socia until she met FP.
She and FP had been together for 41 years, after meeting in a cafeteria in Madrid through friends. They had three children together, and one of the reasons why FP had resigned as president of Madrid during his first term was because of her poor health. Before deciding to run again, he had checked with doctors to make sure she was in remission. I’ve always had the impression that they were very much in love (FP’s yacht was named after his wife), and I always thought they were so sweet together. It will be strange not seeing Pitina in the palco, behind Florentino. We’ll miss this wonderful member of the madridista family.
Many of the players, including Álvaro Arbeloa, sent their condolences via twitter, and Carles Puyol did as well. José Mourinho, Aitor Karanka, Plácido Domingo, José Mercé, Fernando Hierro, Luis Figo, Alfredo di Stéfano, Paco Gento, Pirri, Zoco, Paco Buyo, Santamaría, Zinedine Zidane, Emilio Butragueño, Antonio Adán, José Callejón, Óscar Ribot, Esteban Granero, Nacho and Pedro León went to pay their respects at the funeral home,
and apparently Iker and Sergio are to fly back from Austria today to attend the funeral (it looks like they weren’t able to do that).
In Kuwait: Madrid beat the Kuwaiti national team 2-0 behind goals from Di María and Cristiano Ronaldo to finish the season in a lackluster game, but at least Madrid made some money from traveling to the Middle East. It looks like Iker had a hard time being on the bench, while Sergio looked like he was at a rock concert.
Of note: Cristiano started the game as captain for the first time, although when Iker came in during the second half, the armband went to him. In this way, Cris became the seventh player to wear the armband this season, after Iker, Sergio, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo and Higuaín. He looks good in it, it suits him.
On the way back to Spain, Iker snapped this photo of Raúl Albiol checking out the latest NBA results. Hopefully Boston will be able to beat Philadelphia in the semifinals to make El Chori happy (although for me, it doesn’t matter who wins, because my team is my beloved Spurs and we’re already in the conference finals). And of course, no game would be complete without the awkward self portrait of Karim Benzema taken a few hours before.
Speaking of friendlies, Milan has announced that they’ll be facing us on Aug. 8 in New York, at Yankee Stadium.
Vacation and obligations: several of our boys started off their vacations at Las Ventas, to watch one of the bullfights that is part of the San Isidro Festival on May 17. Iker (with his cousin Bici), Esteban Granero, Sergio Ramos and José Callejón (plus madridista Feli López, who sat with Iker) watched Sebastián Castella and Sergio’s good friends José María Manzanares and Alejandro Talavante (remember that incident three years ago when Sergio left a game during the second half – he couldn’t play as he was suspended – so that he could go see Talavante take on six bulls at Las Ventas?). Sergio’s pants on this occasion were quite awful.
Iker then traveled to Algarve, according to ABC, where he celebrated his birthday with girlfriend Sara and a “new friend,” which he “met” at the Zoomarine Algarve. The dolphin looks quite smug, but who can blame it?
Esteban Granero remained busy over the next several days, watching the basketball team take on Banca Cívica in the playoffs, traveling to Cádiz to support Castilla in their playoff series, and attending the end of the school year ceremony at the Realmadrid Foundation’s social integration sports school in Baza (Granada), his parents’ hometown. The school was also renamed after him. El Pirata visited with the 139 students, and they showed him what they had learned over the course of the year. Esteban said, “I’m very proud to sponsor this school in my city. The mayor can count on me for whatever he needs.” He of course also found the time to tweet his congratulations to his best friend PF Juan Mata for winning the Champions League.
Speaking of that, Iker also posted that he was happy for his “teammates Mata and Torres,” while Sergio Ramos also congratulated his good friends and send a message of support to Arjen Robben. He also directed a little barb towards Manuel Neuer, tweeting that he didn’t know that Neuer was so good in final games (Bayern Munich had lost both the Champions League and the German Cup finals) and saying he should have humility. This stemmed from the fact that Neuer had said after Bayern Munich faced Madrid that he didn’t know that Sergio Ramos preferred to shoot penalties above the goal.
Raúl Albiol returned to his hometown of Vilamarxant, to welcome his old friend, the World Cup, which was on tour and had stopped in the Valencian town. Xabi Alonso caught up with Steven Gerrard (or at just tweeted this photo), and he and Nagore also attended Coldplay’s concert at the Calderón on May 20.
José Mourinho and his coaching staff – Aitor Karanka, Rui Faria, Silvino Louro, José Morais and Carlos Lalín – celebrated winning the league title with a dinner at De María in Majadahonda. We learned of this because Eládio Paramés was also present, and he of course tweeted about the event.
Upon arrival in Argentina, Gonzalo Higuaín told the waiting press that even though he was content at the moment and happy to win the Liga, the year had been a difficult one for him because he didn’t get many playing opportunities. He also said seeing all the affection from the fans and his teammates in the last game and during the celebration made him very happy and proud.
And Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop had dinner with friends in Istanbul.
Fábio Coentrão paid a very heartwarming visit to the Fundación Instituto San José (which organizes social and health programs, as well as provides education for the elderly, the sick and the handicapped), where he was named an honorary member of a Madrid fan group created at the foundation. During his visit, Fábio signed autographs, handed out gifts and said how proud and happy he was to be there. The president of the peña, who is also a psychologist at the center, said that since the people there found out that Fábio was coming, “they began to improve, incidents of bad behavior decreased and they’ve been much calmer.” Fábio went home with an honorary membership card and a book detailing the 100 years of the foundation.
Karim Benzema attended an event with Adidas in Paris on May 22, during which his contract renewal with the sportswear giant was announced. When asked about José Mourinho’s contract extension, he said, “I’m happy he will continue because he’s the best coach in the world. He brought us many things we didn’t have. We have progressed thanks to him and we’ve won the league.” Karim also said he hoped Gonzalo Higuaín would continue with the team, that Zinedine Zidane is like an “older brother” to him and that his goal is to win the Ballon d’Or. Benz has a great smile, no? And the pout isn’t bad either!
And a couple of videos. This Nike ad, “My Time Is Now,” features several of our players (and former players)…
… while Sic Noticias’ special on Jorge Mendes has this adorable video of Cris playing with Junior (if you recall, Jorge is Junior’s godfather), with Mou appearing in this segment. By the way, Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho were there when Jorge Mendes was presented with the “Necklace of Honor for Sporting Merit” by the Portuguese government in Lisbon last Friday.
Cantera things: Castilla put themselves in a good position to be promoted to the second division with a 3-0 win over Cádiz at the Ramón de Carranza. FP and Esteban Granero were on hand to watch Joselu score a doblete (including a taconazo) and MFC score one goal to beat Cádiz. The second-leg game will be this Sunday at EADS.
The team had time to take a stroll along the beach in Chiclana de la Frontera…
… before heading back to Madrid by train. That’s Joselu and Jorge Casado being mean.
Meanwhile, RMC started their attempt to be promoted to the Segunda B division with a win over Villaralbo, behind Ramírez’ goal in the 28th minute. The second leg game will be played this weekend, and there will be two more playoff series should RMC advance. And Cadete B are our newest champions after they beat Canillas 2-1 to win their group title in their last game of the season. They finished with a record of 26-1-3.
More good news from the cantera: several of our canteranos have made the final Fútbol Draft teams. Fernando Pacheco was named to the “gold” team (along with Rodrigo Moreno, who is being linked to Madrid once again), while Sergio Canales made the “silver” team and Dani Carvajal, Álex, Jesé, Pablo Sarabia and MFC ABMM finished on the “bronze” team. Go cantera!
Some not so good news: watching the “pre-Eurocopa” Spanish national team is quite depressing, since there are so many canteranos there who had to leave Real Madrid in order to become stars and make the national team, after being denied opportunities with Madrid. Right now, Álvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado, Juanfran, Javi García and Álvaro Arbeloa are training under the orders of Vicente del Bosque (someone else who was forced out), and Juan Mata is set to join the team in two days. On Monday’s session, Javi Balboa and Rubén de la Red watched their former Castilla teammates train at Las Rozas.
After that session, Javi García remarked that “this concentración shows that Madrid has a great football school! And it’s also a bit frustrating… not for me, since I try to keep myself out of this discussion, but for teammates such as Mata, Soldado, Negredo… many of them are playing at spectacular levels and everyone knows that they could have played just as well with Madrid. But anyway, they didn’t have this possibility. Let’s see if the players of this Castilla will have the opportunities that we didn’t have.”
Pipita quédate: I think I’ll end posts like this until we get confirmation that Pipita is indeed staying (Jorge Higuaín was at the Bernabéu on Tuesday, discussing matters).