Fifty-one thousand supporters bid a final farewell to Atletico Madrid’s beloved Vicente Calderon stadium on Sunday, repeatedly chanting the club’s anthem while watching a team of “Legends” lose a charity game 5-4 to a World XI featuring Ronaldinho.
The game had a far larger attendance than the King’s Cup final between Barcelona and Alaves the previous night and allowed fans to say a last goodbye to their club’s home of 51 years before it is demolished.
Fans had long complained about the stadium’s poor transport links and a lack of parking space, although the decrepit state of the Calderon was part of its charm and a key aspect of the team’s identity as the underdogs in the city they share with global behemoths Real Madrid.
A banner before the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real last month perfectly illustrated Atletico’s image of themselves, proclaiming: “Proud not to be like you”.
Coach Diego Simeone, however, has dismissed those fears.