he must (and does) have the best stories
Fernando Manso, Madrid’s bus driver for the last 14 years, is getting out from behind the wheel. Fernando, whom Iker affectionately nicknamed “Frenando” (braking), drove Madrid for the last time in Pamplona for their game against Osasuna on Dec. 14. He started this job in January 2000 (more or less the same time as Iker), and has witnessed Madrid winning two Champions League, five Ligas, a Copa del Rey and six other trophies. In a previous interview, he said he has been a Madrid fan for all his life, and his idols were Butragueño and Fernando Hierro. Fernando Manso has also driven La Roja, having worked for the RFEF for two decades. He says, “it has been an honor.” Here are some amusing anecdotes that Fernando shared with Marca.
Problems with an Atlético-supporting police officer: Del Bosque was the coach and we were running late to catch our flight to go play a Champions League game. We got caught in traffic and I drove onto the shoulder to save time. A police officer stopped us, and asked me for my documents. I told him to let me bring the team to the airport, and then I would return and show him everything. But he didn’t relent. Del Bosque, Toni Grande, and even Hierro and Figo came down to convince him to let us continue on our way. But there was no way. On the bus, the players were joking, “that guy is an Atleti supporter for sure.” He didn’t let us leave until he wrote out the fine.
“Fernandito, don’t speed”: I remember there was a storm that prevented Madrid from returning from Santander by air. We had to return on the bus and it was raining buckets. I remember Del Bosque told me, “Fernandito, my son, don’t speed.” That was the opposite of what Grande, who was always joking around with me, told me. He said, “don’t pay attention to him, step on it.”
11,000 kilometers to Glasgow and back: during eight years, I drove the bus all around Europe, except for the games in Moscow. The longest trip I made was to Glasgow for La Novena. Between the trip there and back, I drove 11,000 kilometers. I remember that I arrived in Madrid two days after the team and I went directly to Cibeles. I drove around the fountain twice before parking the bus. The cars were tooting their horns and people were cheering us.
Playing the lottery: during a long time, club employees and some players would buy lottery tickets whose numbers corresponded to the license plates of the two buses. Some players continued taking part even after they had left the team. We never won anything, but I continue to buy tickets with those numbers.
A hug from Pellegrini: it was the first time that Pellegrini returned to the Bernabéu after leaving Madrid. I ran into his assistant and I told him to give my regards to the míster. Five minutes later, Pellegrini came out just to give me a hug, just to do that. Then he went back into the stadium. He’s a wonderful person.
A gift from Mourinho: Mou had quite a row with (Manolo) Preciado during his first season. The trip to Gijón was complicated and there were problems after the game. Mou’s assistants confronted Preciado. I had known him for a long time, and so I said goodbye to him and we shook hands before we left. When I got on the bus, Mou yelled, “you’re done here, you hugged my enemy!” I thought this would be my last trip with Madrid. But Mourinho hides a big heart under his intense personality. When we got to the airport, he apologized and gave me a hug. Then he put his hand into the pocket of his coat and gave me a little statue of Our Lady of Fátima. He said, “keep it, it’ll bring you luck.” And he also gave me a hug before he left Madrid.
From Kiss FM to “modern music”: in the beginning, I was responsible for the music and we listened to Kiss FM on all the trips. I also played a CD that a friend had made for me. But then the players became more involved with the music selection and requested that I play CDs with their modern music. The coaches didn’t say anything. Well, Mou didn’t allow music on the bus when we lost or had a bad game. He would say there was nothing to celebrate.
Canteranos on the bus: the players always sat in the same seats. No one sat in a seat that wasn’t his, but there was always someone who would make a mistake, especially the canteranos. I don’t remember who it was, but one time one sat in Raúl’s seat. Another player advised him, “get up from there, or you’ll have problems.” The boy got up and found another seat. When Diego López returned to Madrid, he knew this custom, and so he asked me, “where can I sit?” Diego is a wonderful boy, serious and responsible. A great person.
Beckham and the sunflower seeds: Beckham put me and another employee in charge of buying bags of sunflower seeds before the games. He told us that Victoria liked eating them too. We bought them for him, but he never paid us back (laughs). Of course, we never said anything to him. One day, I found a five euro note on his seat. I gave it back to him, he took it, said thanks and left.
Silence on the bus: I will never forget the arrival of the bus at the Bernabéu on the night of the game against Borussia Dortmund. The crowd was massive. It normally takes me five minutes to drive the bus from the Castellana to the parking lot. That day, it took nearly 20. The fans didn’t let us pass. Some of the players stood up to film the scene with their phones and they asked me to turn off the music to hear the fans. The silence on the bus gave me goosebumps. It was the apotheosis. I heard Mou say, “I’ve never experienced anything like this.” He was as amazed as the rest of us.
Wallets, phones and Drenthe’s earring: there’s always something left on the bus after each trip. Wallets, bracelets, phones… one day I found Drenthe’s earring. It must have been worth a lot of money or have had great sentimental value because he was looking for it everywhere. (Iván) Helguera and (Albert) Celades were the most absent-minded players.
A billiard ball and flares: the scariest day for me was when rocks were thrown at the bus in La Coruña on the way to the stadium. They broke four windows and I remember some players moving to sit on the floor. There was another time when rival fans tried to set the bus on fire by throwing rocks and then flares. In Sevilla, I got hit by a billiard ball that had been aimed at Beckham. It bounced off the bus and hit me.
Cristiano: I would like those who criticize Cristiano to get to know him, because they’ll change their opinion quickly. He doesn’t deserve all that criticism. He’s a wonderful person, an extraordinary man. He’s one of those players who leaves a great impression on you. He’s a great in all senses of the word. Those who talk about him don’t know him at all.
Happy holidays! I thought this would be the type of news you all would be interested in, so I translated it. I’m disappointed that no one asked about the Copa del Rey! But there is a photo of Fernando posing with it accompanying the article.