Editorial - July 15/2008

By Benn

Tuesday 15th July, 2008. The announcement came out of absolutely no where: Depor was coming to Denmark. It came so suddenly, I didn't know what to believe. Could it be a joke? Nah, of course not. Depor was actually coming to me. To my country. If I was given a chance to mention ANY person(s) from the entire world that I would like to meet, I would choose to meet the players of Deportivo La Coru?±a. This was my opportunity, and was going for it. I didn't know then, that the three days Depor spend in Denmark, would be the best three days I've ever lived.

The trip itself began on July 10th 2008. My stuff, which I packed the day before was ready. My friend and I left our homes early in the morning in order to catch the train and make the 250 km trip to Copenhagen. We were going to live in a hotel. Things turned out to be quite expensive, but I didn't care. Deportivo was here and that was all the mattered. The trip took around 2Â? hours, and the first thing we did when we arrived was to check into the hotel and go see the city. I was now closer to my idols than I've ever been. We were in the same city. Later that night, we would get a closer look.

At 18h00 Deportivo was going to face the Danish 2nd division team FC Amager. My friend and I went to the match early. We wanted to see the players before the match. At least I did. We arrived at the empty stadium an hour before the match. It was a small stadium with a capacity of 7.000 people. Not the kind of environment where you would expect to meet the mighty Deportivo La Coru?±a. However, the conditions were ideal. Almost no Depor fans around, no cameras and no crazy journalists. The first sign we saw of Depor was 2 guys dressed in Canterbury from top to bottom. The Depor logo was there as well. When they saw me with my Depor shirt they smiled and asked me if I spoke Spanish. I told them I didn't. They didn't answer, and started to talk to each other again. The next sign of Deportivo was the "chief" of the official newspaper DEPORSPORT. At least he told me his role at the club. He spotted the beautiful shirt I wore right away and didn't hesitate when he came towards me asking questions. I told him my name, the distance I travelled, my age and some more stuff that I don't remember. He probably didn't expect a Depor fan to be here. He then told his photographer to come and take pictures. I lifted my Depor scarf and he took 5-6 pictures. Pretty awesome.

A few more Danish Depor’s fans showed up, but I was still waiting for the players to arrive. And here they came. The bus arrived. It was 10 meters away. I could see them. Lotina stepped out of the bus first, and started to walk towards the entrance of the stadium. Towards me. The players were coming out one at a time. I didn't know what to do. I was smiling all over my face. I went to the players and asked for their autographs. They smiled and gave it to me. I asked if they wanted to take pictures with me as well. They smiled again, and we took our pictures. I was in heaven. Nothing less. The players kept coming, and I kept getting autographs and pictures. Everything was so easily accessible.

There were only 5-10 people interested in the players. We could talk to them without being disturbed neither by any screaming fan nor by any journalist. It was so nice. When it was Rochela's turn to sign my shirt, I went to him and said "Rochela, por favor" while I was giving him my pen. He smiled more than the other players, and told me something I didn't understand. He seemed very happy that I knew his name. He probably didn't expect a guy in a small country like Denmark to know that. But I did, and it made me happy as well. In the end, I had so many autographs on my shirt, that the last players to sign didn't know where to do it. So they asked me "D??nde?� I found a free spot, and they happily signed.

The players slowly started to go into the dressing room to change to match clothes. A bit later they came out with their red and black outfit, ready to play. They walked into the pitch in a line. Again, they were so close. We won the match 4-0 without any problems. A lucky guy got Cristian's match shirt! I was so jealous! I mean, how lucky is it possible to be? After the match I got a few more autographs and a few more pictures with my idols. If I wanted to do it, I could walk right into the dressing room, but of course, I didn't. Again, I was shocked, and at the same time very pleased, because everything was so easily accessible.

The next morning, July 11th. My cell phone alarm rang and was time to go watch the team practice. We were lucky, because we knew the exact time where the team would train. The guy who got Cristian's shirt the day before could speak both Spanish and Danish, so we asked him to ask some of the assistant coaches when the training would take place.

When we arrived at the training ground the players were already there. They were just training very lightly. Nothing hard. Just playing some ball in small groups. It was pretty funny to watch how they get along with each other. How they joke with each other, and just to see them enjoying themselves doing what they like the most. I was filming and taking pictures like a crazy guy. Surely the players were having a good time as well as I did, and a few other Deportivo fans attending the practice. The players were laughing and having fun, but at a very professional and serious level. It was great to watch. Lotina was walking around looking into the ground, like we have all seen on pictures. He seems to think a lot about things. Fabricio and Manu were at the other side of the training ground together with an assistant. We were watching them jumping and saving the most crazy shots. They saved shots I thought were impossible to save. It was quite impressive. Definitely some great players for the future. Two small kids (Brondby fans) got to get a few shots on Manu. I was jealous again. I wanted to try that as well, but the keepers were tired and they were finishing the training when we got down there. So I went back to the rest of the team, who were now stretching out. I mean really stretching out.

They were together in pairs, and I don't think there was a single muscle in their body that wasn't taken care of. It took around 30-45 minutes. When they were done, they went back to the hotel. We were on our way back as well, when we spotted one of the assistants of Depor. He was cleaning ALL the boots of the players. Quite a job he had there. There were more than 20 pairs, so he was pretty busy. Anyways, we went back to the hotel to recharge my camera. The team would train again later that very same day.

It was now 18h00. This time we were at the training ground before the players. We found a football ball, and started playing to kill the time. No more than 20 minutes later, they arrived. They put their boots on and started warming up. Again, my camera was in my hands the entire time. The two small kids who were playing with the keepers earlier that day were there again. Their father could speak Spanish so he talked to the assistants all the time. He was lucky. Anyways, the players started to go towards the goal together with the keepers. Shooting practice. Great! Just what I've been wanting to see! The shots were pretty impressive.

I was especially impressed by Xisco. What a killer instinct he possesses. Manu and Fabricio didn't stand a chance. He kicked the ball so precisely, yet with a lot of power. It was then when I realised how great finisher Xisco is. I got a few crazy shots on tape as well. When the players were done shooting, Lotina and his assistants took over. Lotina blasted a ball into the top corner. What a shot!! Unfortunately, I didn't catch it on tape. The two small kids I mentioned before went into the shooting practise again! Damn. And what was even worse, their father arranged with an assistant to get a training shirt for his kids the next day. Argh!! How did they get one? They didn't know a single name of the players and they were not even Depor fans. They didn't deserve it! I was the one travelling a long distance. I was the one offering lots of money, not them. But what could I do? I mean, they are small, (cute) kids, who actually did some great shots, which impressed the assistants and they had a father speaking Spanish. I didn't stand a chance. The father was nice and so was the kids, but I was just convinced that I deserved the treatment they got much more than them. I was actually a little gutted.
It was now July 12th. Deportivo was facing Brondby. The doors to the stadium were supposed to open at 14h30, so my friend and I went to the entrance at 14h15. We were pretty tired after walking around in Copenhagen for two entire days. The only thing we didn't need was to wait a long time in front of the stadium. However, that's what happened. The doors first opened at 15h00, bad organisation from Brondby! Anyways, when went directly to the spots near to Depor’s bench. I wanted a Depor shirt very badly. We were sitting just two meters away from the bench. We waved to the players and they recognised us. They waved back. How great. The players’ tunnel was also only 20 meters away. The other Depor fans were sitting far away, and I was tempted to go join them, but I knew that if I wanted a shirt from one of the players, I would have to stay, so I did. However, my optimism of getting a shirt got ruined a bit later when two kids and their Spanish speaking father from the day before arrived. They were sitting right next to us. An assistant coach came right over and gave them a beautiful red Depor shirt. I was gutted again!! However, my hope for a shirt still remained. At halftime, I wanted to make a deal with Xisco for his shirt. I called him over and said "La Camiseta" (t-shirt). He said "I can't". I forgot to tell him that I wanted it after the match and not now. I was calling Rochela over as well, but he didn't hear me. My only now chance was after the match.

The match itself was great. Great atmosphere. The 1-1 result didn't matter. It was a friendly and nothing more. Brondby is also not a bad team. When the ref whistled for the last time, my friend and I decided to split up. That would make the chances of getting a shirt a lot bigger. I went to the players’ tunnel and he stayed at the bench. All the players changed shirts with the Brondby players. Argh! I was right above the tunnel. Verdu didn't change shirt, and when he was coming, I yelled his name, but he didn't respond. Now Rochela was coming, and he also didn't change shirt, so I yelled for him as well. However, he changed shirts with a Brondby player right in front of me. Damn. I saw all the other players had changed shirts, so I was sure I wasn't getting one now. However, Fabricio turned up out of nowhere. He had his shirt on! I yelled his name, and he reacted! I pointed at my Depor shirt while yelling "La camiseta, la camiseta". He took his shirt off right away, and threw it up to me. YES!!!!!! The Brondby supporters around me looked at me, like I was from another planet. They probably couldn't believe what they saw. Me, getting a shirt. I went back to my friend, who wasn't lucky enough to catch a shirt for me, but I did it myself and I was very proud. The kids from before was still there, and they looked at me with disbelieve in their eyes. I beat them, and I deserved it! I got Fabricio's shirt myself; my father didn't arrange it the day before like they did. Haha, I saw this as a personal victory against them! It felt great.

We now decided to go outside the stadium, towards the bus of Deportivo. Again, they players came out of the stadium, one at a time. I got a few pictures with some of the players I had missed during the previous days. When Fabricio came out, I shacked his hand and I told him: "Gracias". He smiled and went into the bus. I was shacking hands with a few more players knowing how incredible these three days have been. I told them good bye as well. When all the players were in the bus, the driver started taking off. I and the other Depor fans waved them good bye and they waved back. The bus drove away and it slowly faded into the horizon.
This trip had been worth every single penny paid. It was a dream come true, if not even more. It exceeded all my expectations. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't hesitate. It was simply amazing. Thank you Deportivo for choosing Denmark. If you guys out there ever get the opportunity that I got, make sure you take it! It's going to be worthy, I promise.

And now there's only one thing left to say: Gracias Depor, for everything, gracias.