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My Madrid Memories: The Bus, Bilbao and The Best Night Of Our Lives

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MEMORIES are such a strange concept.

I saw a meme recently which pointed out that sometimes your brain can remember that it’s forgotten something, but can’t actually remember what that thing was.



It makes you think, doesn’t it?



There are millions of moments throughout my life which are just consigned to being there at that time. Sometimes I remember strange little moments, usually because I remember exactly how it made me feel or there was a particular quirk about that moment.



But some memories just stick with you forever, no matter how much you drink.

Those who have listened to Anfield Wrap podcasts religiously will know that a bunch of us psychopaths bailed onto a minibus to travel from Liverpool, England to Kiev, Ukraine. A quick Google map search will tell you that’s around 1,800 miles.

Tomorrow ?? pic.twitter.com/itmTAJYm5y

— Josh Sexton (@jsexton24) May 27, 2019

The lengths you go to following Liverpool Football Club.

You’d think the fact that the trip took us about a week longer than it was scheduled to would deter us from partaking again in future. Imagine your faces when we clambered back on board just over a year later then.

This time the redeeming factor was that there would be more stops and it was obviously a much shorter distance to travel. Oh, and we’d have air conditioning this time. But we thought that last time, to be fair.

The journey to Madrid felt like a walk in the park by comparison. Rather than it feeling like you were constantly three hours away from the next destination, you’d actually arrive either on time or with a bit of time to spare if you were lucky.

Our stops were Bordeaux and Bilbao on the way, and La Rochelle on the way back.

Bordeaux was a great start. We had lovely wine and lovely food, which Dan Austin helped us translate as we increased Anglo-French tensions by completely butchering this gaff’s entire menu. It wasn’t a long stop because we were still a long way from Madrid, but it was nice.

Bilbao was a belter, though. We arrived with loads of time, recorded a load of podcasts and got progressively more drunk as we did. Then we found a karaoke gaff, and the rest is cemented in Bilbao folklore. I just remember Craig Hannan singing Last Christmas to a standing ovation (from only us in this entire gaff) and drinking all of Spain’s gin and tonic.

Bordeaux > Bilbao ?

?? Next stop Madrid pic.twitter.com/ZMS5yhDPjR

— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) May 31, 2019

Arriving in Madrid the night before the final was surreal, though. It was as though all its occupants had replaced themselves with lads you knew from the match for a few days. Like one of those shows where people swap lives with somebody from a completely different background, but a lot more drunk.

It turned out Madrid had restocked their gin and tonic supply for us, so we drank all of that just to ready ourselves for what was to come. To tell you the truth though, I couldn’t have prepared myself for what was to come if I tried.

Plaza Felipe II was absolutely heaving with Reds even in the AM. They talk about cup final days and that ‘cup final feeling’, and this was exactly that.

Loads of sun. Loads of bevvies. Loads of Reds. Loads of singing. Loads of dancing. All while some great people that I’m lucky enough to know got to entertain the crowd on stage.

There’s a lot to be said about the moment you first get into a stadium for a European Cup final. It’s like reliving your first time going to the match all over again. You have to almost pinch yourself, take a big deep breath and take in your surroundings.

One of the first things I remember was realising that there were actual Tottenham fans in Madrid. No disrespect to them – every single one I encountered en route was great, to be honest – but it just felt like it was only us until that point due to sheer numbers.

Everybody knows what happened from that moment on. Mo Salah scores. The game goes on for around eight hours. Then Divock Origi scores. Then we all cried. We cried so much. The only thing that stopped me crying was the fact that my dehydrated body could literally not produce any more tears.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS THE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE pic.twitter.com/LBNHDruSXW

— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) June 1, 2019

It was a joyful cry but it was also filled with complete relief. Because we all knew how much these lads deserved that moment, and we all know sport sometimes has this cruel way of giving you the complete opposite of that – as we had felt in Kiev.

Most of us got straight back on the bus (and we’ve recorded a show about that which will be out tomorrow, so download The Anfield Wrap app for that) and were absolutely exhausted. But just being back on there with each other made us want to celebrate more. So we did.

We missed the parade, which you almost forgot would happen until you saw the images from it on social media, but I honestly think we were in the second best place since we couldn’t be there. Just being Champions of Europe in lovely, lovely La Rochelle.

From that moment I couldn’t wait to get home. To see my family and friends and tell them how we’d got on. To see everybody I’d seen in Madrid and give them another big cuddle. To make sure any Mancs or Evertonians I know were aware of the score. I hope they remember it for as long as I will.

Memories are a strange thing, though. Some just stick with you forever, no matter how much you drink. And we drank loads. But I’ll never forget the faces or places. I’ll never forget these lads who got us there.

Bordeaux. Bilbao. Madrid. La Rochelle. Liverpool Football Club. The love of our lives.

For instant reaction to all the Liverpool news and events that matter to you, subscribe to The Anfield Wrap…

"The seven or eight minutes after the final whistle were the most special of my life." ??

Last summer we sat down with Jurgen Klopp to discuss a historic 24 hours in Madrid…

? Watch in full for free by downloading our app here ? https://t.co/v3xcfw1OJ2 pic.twitter.com/9ybbKSLfL4

— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) June 1, 2020
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