Real Madrid is not only the most successful team of all time, but also an intimate family. The club comprises of just over 100,000 Socios (Members) who pay yearly dues and exercise their rights in sanctioned events as well as attend their games on multiple levels of competition. Within this body, there are those who maintain decades of Membership and the Club organizes a special yearly event to honour their dedication. Last Saturday, Real Madrid recognized 2, 930 Members who completed 25, 50, and 60 years of uninterrupted Membership. They belong to the classes of 1959, 1969, and 1994!
The ceremony began with a welcome speech by Director of Institutional Relations Emilio Butragueño.
“We’ve reached this stage by sharing some unforgettable memories,” Butragueño said. “And today we want to look back on a whole lifetime together.”
Butragueño also mentioned the major club accomplishments in those three celebrated years. Then, a nostalgic video with American singer Dinah Washington’s 1959 Grammy-winning single ‘What a Difference A Day Makes!’ playing in the background displayed images of Real Madrid winning the following titles: the fourth straight European Cup in Stuttgart against French club Stade de Reims in 1959, the 14th Liga in football and 11th Liga in basketball in 1969, and the fourth Spanish SuperCup against Barcelona in football, and 3-0 sweeping of Barcelona in the Liga finals in basketball in 1994. Towards the end of the video, there were images of Madridista stadium celebrations and smiling children from Real Madrid Foundation projects.
After Butragueño’s opening, Don Florentino Pérez took the podium and explained the club’s mission with this special ceremony by saying: “We’re here to recognize the passion, commitment and loyalty that you’ve always shown towards Real Madrid. You represent a lifetime’s allegiance towards Real Madrid. As Real Madrid president, I’m proud to count on you in our pursuit of new targets.” Florentino also explained the pillars of unity, values, and success that make Real Madrid “The biggest sporting institution in the world, the club that has 23 European Cups to its name.”
One by one, Members were called up to the stage to receive commemorative silver, gold, and gold & diamond club pins for their 25, 50, and 60 years of uninterrupted membership. Former players Santiago Solari, Roberto Carlos, Álvaro Arbeloa, Fernando Hierro, Manuel Sanchís, Francisco Buyo, Amancio Amaro, and Emilio Butragueño handed out 2,466 silver and 337 gold pins while Florentino Pérez handed the gold & diamond pins to 127 Members. Among those who received gold pins were legendary players Emilio Butragueño and Manuel Sanchís.
In a way, this annual ceremony is a graduation for the most loyal Members in Real Madrid. Becoming a Member is only one exclusive step on the ladder. These Members dedicate their lives to the club, and their commemorative pins are gifts by Real Madrid to honour their continued passion and commitment. Real Madrid is not just a team but a family. Next year, the Club will honour the classes of 1960, 1970, and 1995. ¡Hala Madrid y nada más!
Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)